March 14, 2018 / 2:57 PM / 8 days ago

UPDATE 1-Polish utility Tauron to increase capex, hold on to heating assets

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WARSAW, March 14 (Reuters) - State-run Polish utility Tauron expects to increase its capital spending by more than 4 billion zlotys ($1.2 billion) this year and has no plans to sell its heating assets, company officials said on Wednesday.

With debt totalling 9.72 billion zlotys, Tauron is the most indebted of Poland’s four biggest state-run energy groups.

Newspaper Dziennik Gazeta Prawna reported last month that some of Tauron’s assets, including heating plants or coal mines, could be taken over by its bigger rivals as part of a wider plan of consolidating the power sector.

“Due to its financial situation Tauron needs a broad base of regulated assets. We do not foresee any steps in the area,” Tauron’s Chief Executive Filip Grzegorczyk told a press conference on Wednesday when asked whether Tauron would consider selling its heating assets.

He was less certain about whether Tauron might sell some of its coal mines.

“At the moment we are not familiar with the owner’s plans or decisions regarding potential takeover of our mines by PGG,” Grzegorczyk said when asked whether some of Tauron’s mines could be acquired by state-run coal miner PGG.

Tauron’s net debt to EBITDA ratio stood at 2.27 at the end of 2017 and will still be below 3 at the end of this year, Chief Financial Officer Marek Wadowski said.

Capex would top 4 billion zlotys, up from 3.5 billion zlotys in 2017, he said.

Tauron, which assumes a 10 percent increase in coal prices this year, expects that its EBITDA in 2018 will be similar to 3.5 billion zlotys reported for 2017.

“We expect the good macro situation in Poland to continue, which should translate into an increase in volumes of power delivered to clients,” Wadowski also said.

The company said power consumption in Poland rose by around 2 percent last year, on the back of 4.5 percent economic growth.

Shares in Tauron have fallen by 16 percent since the start of the year, reducing the company’s market capitalization to 4.46 billion zlotys. They were down 0.4 percent at 1432 GMT.

$1 = 3.4079 zlotys Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko; Editing by Lidia Kelly and Susan Fenton

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