updated 5/17/2005 1:28:46 PM ET 2005-05-17T17:28:46

German utility company E.On said Tuesday it had sold its real estate unit to a division of British private equity house Terra Firma Capital Partners for about $5 billion, with an additional $3.8 billion in debt and provisions.

E.On said it sold its Viterra unit, which is Germany's biggest residential property owner with close to 155,000 apartments, to Deutsche Annington GmbH.

The Duesseldorf-based company also announced Tuesday that it expects 2005 net earnings to be slightly above the $9.4 billion earned the previous year.

The sale of Viterra is part of E.On's attempts to divest its stakes in other markets. The company has said it further plans to sell off stakes in Degussa and Ruhrgas companies.

E.On shares rose 1.2 percent to $84.26 in Frankfurt trading.

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