The German energy group E.ON Energie said it was aiming to become a strategic investor in Lithuania's electricity distribution business and intends to dispose of its holdings in all other businesses in this country other than those directly involved in power and natural gas distribution.
Heinz-Peter Schierenbeck, E.ON Energie's chief expansion expert, unveiled the German group's plans after signing a 76.2 million litas (22.1 million euro) share-swap deal, covering four Lithuanian energy companies, in Vilnius on July 11.
The agreement was signed by Deputy Economy Minister Nerijus Eidukevicius.
The deal has raised E.ON Energie's shareholdings in Lithuania's two power distribution companies - Rytu Skirstomieji Tinklai and Vakaru Skirstomieji Tinklai.
"We have had a 10 percent presence in Lithuania's electrical energy business until recently, and this was more a financial investment. With this share-swap deal we are directing our focus to the distribution business. Our future goal is to become a strategic investor in this area, a goal we have achieved in Lietuvos Dujos [Lithuanian Gas] together with Ruhrgas," Schierenbeck said.
The consortium of Ruhrgas and E.ON Energie purchased a 34 percent stake in Lietuvos Dujos during the first stage of the natural gas utility's privatization last year.
Schierenbeck called the share-swap transaction E.ON Energie's first step toward achieving this strategic goal, with the next step the upcoming privatization of the power grids.
He said the German group was ready to participate in the sell-offs.
"As part of our plans to concentrate on the distribution business, most probably we will sell off our shareholdings in other businesses after the privatization gets underway."
Schierenbeck added that the German group had shareholdings in three local construction firms, a hotel and the thermal power plant in Mazeikiai.
In case E.ON Energie buys neither Rytu Skirstomieji Tinklai nor Vakaru Skirstomieji Tinklai, it will have to sell its existing holdings in both companies.
E.ON Energie now owns 20.2 percent in Rytu Skirstomieji Tinklai and 14.6 percent in Vakaru Skirstomieji Tinklai.
The transactions reduced the government's holdings in the two power distribution companies to 71.35 percent in Rytu Skirstomieji Tinklai and to 77 percent in Vakaru Skirstomieji Tinklai, but its shareholding in Lietuvos Energija and Lietuvos Elektrine each increased to 96.62 percent.