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UPDATE 2-Enel eyes expansion to US, other power distribution markets

(Recasts, adds comments)

MILAN, April 20 (Reuters) - Enel wants to expand its power distribution business outside Europe and Latin America and would like to enter the U.S. market, the networks boss at the world’s biggest private grid operator said.

“In the U.S. we are in generation... we would like to enter one day into distribution,” Enel Global Infrastructure and Networks CEO Antonio Cammisecra told a media briefing.

Italy’s Enel manages power distribution grids in eight countries in Latin America and Europe with over 74 million clients. More than 40% of its 17.9 billion euros of core earnings came from networks last year.

“To identify potential targets, Europe and Latin America are on the radar screen but yes... we are also looking at other geographical areas,” Cammisecra said.

Enel, one of the world’s biggest renewable energy companies, is planning to spend 16.2 billion euros ($19.52 billion) on distribution networks in the next two years and 60 billion euros to 2030.

Around 65% of that will go on reinforcing its grids and improving digital resilience to cope with increasing volumes of power generated from renewable energy sources.

“For every dollar spent on renewables, you need to spend another dollar on grids,” Cammisecra said.

Asked about new business lines, Cammisecra said the group had set up a company that would offer digital and infrastructure devices and services to other companies for managing grids.

The unit will be operational by the end of the year.

Cammisecra said the unit was also looking to help distribution companies in Africa use digital technologies to improve their operations and cut costs to connect more clients to the grid.

He also said Enel was ready to offer its management skills to run grids in distribution companies where it was not the majority shareholder, or even a shareholder at all, under a so-called “stewardship model”.

“Within the stewardship model we are scouting the possibility of going into Sub-Saharan Africa,” he said.

$1 = 0.8297 euros Reporting by Stephen Jewkes; editing by Agnieszka Flak, Kirsten Donovan and David Evans

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