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Exclusive-Shell's US solar unit launches asset sale, sources say

A view shows a logo of Shell petrol station in South East London

By Isla Binnie, Andres Gonzalez and Ron Bousso

NEW YORK (Reuters) -Shell's U.S. solar business Savion has put around a quarter of its assets up for sale, according to a marketing document and industry sources, as the oil major extends a retreat from owning renewables projects under CEO Wael Sawan.

Investment bank Jefferies is running the sale of up to 10.6 gigawatts (GW) of solar generation and storage assets currently in development, or parts of those projects, according to the document sent to potential investors and seen by Reuters.

The total value of the assets, located in the northeast, southeast and west of the United States, was unclear. Project valuations often depend on power prices where they are located.

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Spokespeople for Shell and Jefferies declined to comment.

Shell shares were up 0.4% at 1610 GMT.

Savion is developing 39.1 GW of solar and storage projects, and has completed sites with capacity of more than 2.3 GW, according to its website.

Shell acquired Savion for an undisclosed sum in December 2021 as part of a drive under former CEO Ben van Beurden to grow in the low-carbon energy market and reduce its carbon footprint.

Over two years on, the sale process marks the latest step in Shell's shift under Sawan, who has vowed to focus on the most profitable businesses since taking office in January 2023.

In June, Sawan said Shell wanted to focus on accessing low-carbon power which it could sell and trade rather than owning the generation assets, where returns are usually lower.

Shell now aims to focus on higher-margin projects, steady oil output and boosting natural gas production.

Renewables valuations have decreased but these assets will remain pivotal to the energy transition and generate attention as interest rates begin to decline, KPMG said in a report earlier this month.

The sale of assets in the portfolio, dubbed "Dasher," will allow Savion to "focus on executing on Shell's integrated power markets strategy," the document said.

Shell recently sold its power retail businesses in Britain and Germany, exited a number of floating offshore wind projects and reduced its hydrogen business. It is also seeking to exit some refining operations and its onshore oil business in Nigeria.

Shell has also started to make company-wide staff reductions, including in its low-carbon solutions division, in a drive to save up to $3 billion.

(Reporting by Isla Binnie in New York, and Andres Gonzalez and Ron Bousso in London; Editing by Simon Webb, Chris Reese and Jane Merriman)