ENI sells Russian gas import pipeline for 483 mn euros

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Italian energy group ENI said on Friday it had agreed to sell its stake in a pipeline pumping Russian gas to Italy to state lender CDP for 483 million euros, following an EU antitrust ruling.

"ENI signed a purchase agreement with Cassa Depositi e Prestiti Spa (CDP) for the sale of 89 percent of the existing shares" in the Trans Austria Gas (TAG) pipeline, ENI said in a statement.

"The sale provides for the payment of 483 million euros ($699 million), plus reimbursement of a shareholder loan granted by ENI to the company equal to 192 million euro," it said.

The sale was "part of the commitments taken by ENI in response to the European Antitrust Commission ruling" in September 2010.

The European Commission launched an an enquiry into ENI in 2007 for abusing its dominant market position and in September the energy group agreed to sell off three gas pipelines to avoid paying a penalty.

As well as selling its shares in the TAG gas pipeline, the Italian group said it would sell the TENP and Trasitgas pipelines, which transport gas from the North Sea to Italy through the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland.

Had it not decided to play ball, ENI could have faced a penalty of up to 10 percent of its annual turnover.

Faced with an increasingly stringent Commission over the last few years, a number of companies have opted to make concessions to avoid a fine.

© 2011 AFP

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