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UPDATE 1-Verbund rejects capital call for Italy's Sorgenia
February 3, 2014 / 4:58 PM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 1-Verbund rejects capital call for Italy's Sorgenia

* Debt standstill agreement depends on cash injection-source

* Source says creditor banks sent letter to Verbund

* Says banks looking for a buyer of Verbund’s 46-pct stake (Recasts lead, adds sources)

By Georgina Prodhan and Stephen Jewkes

VIENNA/MILAN, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Austria’s Verbund has rejected its partly owned Sorgenia unit’s call for funds, jeopardising the chances that talks with creditor banks on a debt standstill will succeed.

The loss-making Italian energy company, controlled by holding company CIR, is trying to negotiate freezing repayments on almost 1.8 billion euros ($2.4 billion) of debt until June.

“We have no intention of injecting more capital,” a spokeswoman for state-controlled Verbund said on Monday.

In December, Sorgenia, whose gas-fired power business has been hit by falling demand during the economic crisis, said it had presented a new business plan to its banks, asking them to start a debt restructuring process.

The plan includes the sale of Sorgenia’s renewable power assets in Italy and France as well as its exploration and production business.

State-controlled Verbund has written down its stake to zero.

“Verbund has tried to sell its stake in the past without any luck. The banks are now looking for potential buyers and there have been some expressions of interest from continental Europe,” a source close to the banks said.

A second banking source said, “Verbund doesn’t even want to sit at the negotiating table and this is complicating matters for the banks who have sent a letter to the Austrians.”

The second source said the banks were on the whole ready to give a green light to the standstill agreement if the Sorgenia shareholders injected capital.

Sorgenia owes money to about 20 Italian and foreign banks. Its main creditor is troubled Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena . Other creditor banks include Intesa Sanpaolo , UniCredit and Mediobanca.

The first banking source said the banks did not have a common approach to Sorgenia’s debt, noting that Monte Paschi had not revoked its credit lines but others had. ($1 = 0.7415 euros) (Editing by Louise Ireland and Francesca Landini)

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