Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi. Image courtesy of Eni.

Italy’s Eni is gearing up to put its $3 billion stake in services company Saipem on the sales block.

During a parliamentary hearing Tuesday Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi said the company had begun the sales process and had picked an unnamed adviser to guide the process.

Eni has reportedly chosen Credit Suisse to serve as its adviser but neither company has confirmed the deal, Reuters said.

Eni owns a 43 percent stake in Saipem that is currently worth about $3 billion.

State owned Eni wants to unload Saipem to clear the company’s $6.24 billion debt off its books and use proceeds from the sale to grow its upstream presence in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

“There have been manifestations of interest but there’s nothing concrete. Credit Suisse is still sounding out the market and studying the structure of the deal,” a source close to the deal told Reuters.

Descalzi said Tuesday Eni is not currently talking to any company about the sale.

Last week Russia’s Rosneft said it will wait to see what Eni does with its Saipem stake before finalizing plans to buy into the services company.

However, the current EU sanctions against Russia could make any purchase into Saipem difficult for Rosneft.

In 2013 Saipem’s market value was cut in half after the company had to issue two profit warnings and Milan prosecutors undertook a corruption probe into the company’s activities in Algeria.


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