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Austria's Verbund, Italy's ERG vie for Spanish solar assets - sources

MADRID, June 30 (Reuters) - Austrian utility Verbund and Italy’s biggest wind power operator ERG are competing to buy assets from Spanish solar developer Grupotec in a deal potentially worth more than 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) including planned investment, two people familiar with the matter said.

The contest is the latest between international groups to beef up their holdings in Spain’s fast-growing solar sector, which has attracted increasing investor attention as governments and corporations globally seek to shift to renewable energy and cut planet-warming carbon emissions.

Valencia-based Grupotec has hired specialised boutiques Augusta and Astris Finance as advisers to help it sell a portfolio which, once built, could have a generation capacity of almost 3GW, the people familiar with the matter said.

This includes almost 1.3GW which are due to be linked up to the grid in 2023 and could have an investment cost of around 1 billion euros, one of the people said, adding the seller would likely look for a premium on top of that amount.

The total valuation including some operating assets and a long list of projects at earlier stages could reach up to around 2 billion euros, the other person said.

A Verbund spokesperson said, “We are looking into opportunities for the renewable sector and if a strategic fit comes along, we might be interested.”

Grupotec, ERG and Astris did not respond to requests for comment. Augusta did not comment.

Grupotec currently operates and maintains more than 230 facilities in France, Spain, Britain and the United States which add up to more than 530 megawatts, according to its website.

One other bidder is still in the race, one of the sources said.

Verbund generates 90% of its electricity from renewable sources and said last year it had identified the potential to invest 5 billion euros over the next decade in projects that lower carbon emissions.

ERG, which makes around 60% of its earnings from wind power, has pledged to spend 2.1 billion euros in the next five years, sell hydroelectric and gas-fired plants and boost its solar capacity to become a pure green energy business.

Grupotec has indicated it would give buyers options to buy the assets at different stages in the construction process, one of the people familiar with the sale said. ($1 = 0.8397 euros) (Reporting by Isla Binnie and Arno Schuetze;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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