Bloomberg News

Eni Sells 89% Stake in TAG Pipeline to State Lender CDP

June 10, 2011

(Updates with deal terms in second paragraph.)

June 10 (Bloomberg) -- Eni SpA agreed to sell its 89 percent stake in the Trans-Austria Gas pipeline, known as TAG, to Italian state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti SpA, settling a dispute with European regulators.

CDP will pay 483 million euros ($700 million), plus the reimbursement of a loan for 192 million euros, according to a statement from the two companies.

Eni, Italy’s largest energy company, last year averted possible European Union antitrust fines after regulators accepted its offer to settle a competition case by selling stakes in natural-gas pipelines including TAG, which crosses Austria from the Slovak border to the Italian frontier, bringing gas from Russia.

Under the settlement with the EU, Eni was able to avoid the risk of fines for restricting access to its transmission network. The Brussels-based European Commission, the EU’s executive body, said in 2009 that Eni may have abused its dominant position by limiting its investment in a network that brings Russian gas into the country via Germany and Austria.

Eni’s so-called ship-or-pay contract with TAG will remain in effect after the deal’s conclusion, according to the statement. Under such contracts, a buyer agrees to pay for contracted transportation capacity regardless of actual volume.

TAG is managed by Trans Austria Gasleitung GmbH, a partnership of Eni and Austria’s OMV AG, which owns the remaining stake in the pipeline.

--With assistance from Armorel Kenna in Milan. Editors: Stephen Cunningham, Torrey Clark.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jerrold Colten in Milan at jcolten@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David Risser at drisser@bloomberg.net


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