The French state-owned electricity producer Electricite de France (EDF) is readying a jumbo mortgage-backed securitization, according to Jacques Chauvin, the company's chief financial officer.

The deal, scheduled to hit the markets before the end of the year possibly as early as October should be worth around E1 billion ($1.04 billion) and is backed by low interest mortgage loans granted by EDF to its employees.

The company has invited banks to bid for the mandate, but a final decision on whether to proceed will be made at a board meeting scheduled for the end of September.

EDF is under government pressure to reduce its debt burden to around E15.25 billion by the end of 2000 (from E22 billion in 1995) and to establish an investment program that will grow to cover the costs of decommissioning of aging nuclear plants. "They are considering what other assets including other mortgage and real estate assets are securitizable. I'm sure that they will approve this deal and then look to do more in the future," said a Paris-based banker.

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