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Thursday, April 14, 2011

GDF Suez in talks to sell gas grid stake, (CNPP), (GSZ)

French state bank Caisse des Depots and insurer CNP Assurances (CNPP.PA) are in advanced talks to buy a quarter of GDF Suez's (GSZ.PA) French gas grid for 1.1 billion euros ($1.6 billion), the three companies said on Thursday. Caisse des Depots and CNP added that as part of the deal, the grid, GRTgaz, planned to expand into Germany and Austria by taking over GDF's stakes in transport operators in the two countries, a process to be completed in the second half. "The entry of a long-term partner in the capital of GRTgaz ... strengthens the GRTgaz development plan and provides security for an ambitious investment programme over the next 10 years in a context of high infrastructure needs in Europe," GDF Suez Chief Executive Gerard Mestrallet said in a statement. The deal, part of a broader programme of asset sales by the world's biggest utility, comes as GDF is seeking to streamline its business portfolio while expanding in emerging markets.