July 23, 2018 / 2:37 PM / in 10 months

UPDATE 1-Neoenergia, Energisa among firms eyeing Eletrobras distributor -paper

(Adds company comments, share price)

SAO PAULO, July 23 (Reuters) - Four domestic and international power companies are among those eyeing a purchase of Cepisa, a Brazilian power distributor owned by state-run Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras SA that is set to be auctioned off this week, a newspaper reported.

Brazil’s Equatorial Energia SA and Energisa SA , Italy’s Enel SpA and Neoenergia SA , controlled by Spain’s Iberdrola SA, are among the companies eyeing a bid for the asset, formally known as Companhia Energetica do Piaui, newspaper Valor Economico said on Monday, citing sources with knowledge of the matter.

The distributor, which operates in the state of Piaui, is one of six distribution assets that Eletrobras, as Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras is commonly known, plans to auction off as part of an ongoing privatization program. The auction for Cepisa, considered one of the more attractive assets, is scheduled for July 26, while the other auctions have been delayed to August.

Equatorial Energia, Energisa and Enel have already publicly expressed general interest in bidding for Eletrobras assets. In an interview with Reuters last week, Brazilian Planning Minister Esteves Colnago said “several groups” were interested in Cepisa, including potential Spanish buyers.

Equatorial Energia did not respond to a request for comment on Monday. Eletrobras and Energisa declined to comment.

Neoenergia said in a statement to Reuters that the firm was always examining expansion and acquisition opportunities in the Brazilian electricity market.

A spokesman for Enel referred Reuters to an interview Enel Chief Executive Francesco Starace gave to Valor last week, in which he said the company was interested in two of the six Eletrobras distributors. While Starace did not name them, he said it would be easy to determine which assets the company would be interested in “if you looked at a map and see where we are.” That led to speculation by the paper that the company was interested in Cepisa.

Reuters reported in May that Brazil’s CPFL Energia SA was among the parties looking at a purchase of Cepisa.

Preferred and common shares in Eletrobras both opened up about 3 percent before paring gains to trade about half a percent down later in the morning, in line with Brazil’s benchmark Bovespa index. (Reporting by Gram Slattery; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Bill Trott)

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