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Eletrobras delays auction of Ceal energy distributor amid high interest

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By Rodrigo Viga Gaier and Luciano Costa

RIO DE JANEIRO, Dec 17 (Reuters) - The privatization auction of a unit of Brazilian state-run power holding company Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras SA was delayed to accommodate investors who needed more time to examine the unit, the company's chief executive said on Monday.

Many potential buyers had requested information in the last week about the Ceal unit, said Wilson Ferreira Jr, the CEO of Eletrobras, as the company is known.

The successful sale of Ceal would mark Eletrobras' complete exit from electricity distribution, having already sold off five other subsidiaries in the segment, which together had accumulated billions of dollars in losses over decades.

Ceal distributes energy in the northeastern state of Alagoas and is seen by many experts as among the least problematic of the distribution units. Its auction had been temporarily held up by a court injunction against its privatization that was later struck down.

With the new delay, Ceal is scheduled to be auctioned off on Dec. 28 instead of the previous date of Dec. 19.

(Reporting by Rodrigo Viga Gaier and Luciano Costa; Writing by Gram Slattery and Jake Spring; Editing by Dan Grebler)