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UPDATE 1-Italy's Eni halts Australian sale after bids disappoint -sources

(Adds second source, comment from Eni spokesman)

MILAN, Jan 5 (Reuters) - Italian oil and gas group Eni has put on hold the sale of Australian gas assets it values at around $1 billion after they failed to attract satisfactory bids, two sources close to the matter said, confirming a press report.

One of the sources said offers had been well below what Eni had expected.

A spokesman for Eni said the group would not comment on a press report.

“However, Eni confirms its strategy of rationalisation of its production portfolio, which will only become effective when conditions are met for the assets concerned to be adequately valued,” he said.

News that the sale process had been halted was reported first by Italian daily MF on Tuesday.

The disposal of its Australian gas assets is part of Eni’s plans to sell non-core assets to raise cash after the global downturn triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, and its drive to focus on cleaner fuels.

Eni and its adviser Citi had expected binding bids for the gas assets in Australia by the end of November, two sources had said. (Reporting by Giulio Piovaccari and Stephen Jewkes; Editing by Jan Harvey and Susan Fenton)

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