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Published: Tuesday January 14, 2014 MYT 8:30:01 AM
Updated: Tuesday January 14, 2014 MYT 8:31:11 AM

Italy's Letta sees opportunities in Mexico's energy reform

Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta (L) shakes hands with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto after signing bilateral agreements at the National Palace in Mexico City January 13, 2014. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta (L) shakes hands with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto after signing bilateral agreements at the National Palace in Mexico City January 13, 2014. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta said on Monday he sees opportunities for Italian firms to invest in Mexico's energy sector thanks to a government opening of the ailing, long-shuttered industry.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto last month signed a bill into law that ended the country's 75-year-old oil and gas monopoly. Under the new legislation, which is still being definitively mapped out, foreign companies will be able to enter the sector, bringing expertise and efficiency to state oil monopoly Pemex.

Speaking on a state visit alongside Pena Nieto, who has pushed overhauls to the country's telecoms, banking and tax laws since taking office in 2012, Letta said the opening up of Mexico's energy sector was a big opportunity for Italian firms.

"The reforms that President Pena Nieto began to enact last year, and continues to enact this year, open very interesting opportunities for Italian businessmen and for our country," Letta said.

"Among the many sectors I could mention ... the energy sector is certainly one of the most interesting and most important."

He also saw scope for Italian investment in other Mexican sectors including telecoms, defense and infrastructure.

Letta, whose comments gave a clear signal of the international interest in capitalizing on Mexico's newly opened energy sector, was accompanied on the trip by representatives from the Italian energy industry, including renewable energy firm Enel Green power.

The company, Italy's biggest renewable energy firm, signed a document vowing to invest in Mexican renewables, although the size and details of the deal were not immediately clear.

Last year, Enel Green Power, said it would invest about $160 million to build a 102 MW wind farm in Mexico to be completed and put into service in the second half of 2014.

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