August 1, 2019 / 6:22 PM / 6 months ago

UPDATE 1-Enel upbeat on outlook after renewables and grids boost earnings

(Recasts, adds CEO comments)

MILAN, Aug 1 (Reuters) - Europe’s biggest utility Enel painted an upbeat outlook after posting a strong rise in earnings in the first six months driven by its green energy and network businesses.

“Our next Capital Markets Day will be hinged on strong organic growth fueled by strong cash flows,” CEO Francesco Starace told analysts.

Enel, which controls Spanish energy group Endesa, is investing heavily in renewable energy and distribution grids to fuel future growth.

The two businesses, down to absorb 80 percent of 27 billion euros of investments over the next three years, helped drive a 13.4% jump in ordinary core earnings to June to 8.76 billion euros ($9.70 billion), in line with consensus.

Its development investments in the period grew 33% to 2.5 billion euros with more than two thirds earmarked for green energy.

“We are building and developing over 7 gigawatts of renewable capacity, which is expected to contribute around one billion euros in EBITDA per year,” Starace said.

As governments introduce more stringent rules to meet climate targets, Europe’s power sector is undergoing significant change driven by a boom in renewables.

Starace, who said the group would make a bigger push on consolidating minorities in coming years, said he was ready to make small- and medium-sized acquisitions, mainly in grids.

“We remain skeptical about strategic life-changing M&A in the next few years since they seem to be extremely problematic in Europe... and extremely dilutive,” he said. ($1 = 0.9038 euros) (Reporting by Stephen Jewkes, editing by Silvia Aloisi)

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