RWE in divesting cycle in Czeck and Hungary

, SEE Energy News

RWE has signed an agreement for the sale of 100% of its shares in NET4GAS, s.r.o., the independent Gas Transmission Operator in the Czech Republic, to a consortium of Allianz and Borealis Infrastructure. RWE also divested its minority holding in Hungarian gas distributor Tigáz.

 Under the agreement, the consortium will acquire the shares for an enterprise value close to EUR 1.6 billion. This represents a normalised valuation multiple (Enterprise Value/EBITDA) of c. 9x. The closing of the transaction is expected to occur in the second half of 2013, RWE said in a statement on 28 March.

NET4GAS, s.r.o. holds the exclusive licence for the operation of more than 3,600 kilometres of pipelines in the Czech Republic and is responsible for the national transmission of natural gas as well as international gas transit.

“With the sale to Allianz and Borealis Infrastructure we have succeeded to find a very reliable long term investor for NET4GAS. We are convinced that the consortium is ideally positioned to further develop the company with due regard of the interests of all stakeholders,” commented Peter Terium, Chief Executive Officer of RWE AG.

“The sale of NET4GAS is a further milestone in our divestment programme to reinforce our capital base and our financial strength,” he added.

The consortium of Germany’s Allianz and the infrastructure investment arm of the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) was not the only one vying for the operator of the 3,600-km Czech pipeline. The rivals included Czech KKCG and EPH. The latter has only recently bought out E.ON and GDF Suez from Slovakian gas company SPP.

RWE has also sold its 44.2% stake in one of Hungary’s largest gas distributors Tigáz Zrt. to majority owner ENI of Italy, local business daily Napi Gazdaság reported on Thursday. The financial details of the transaction are not public. RWE selling its minority holding to ENI had been reported earlier by medias.

The consolidated balance of Tigáz shows HUF 253 billion revenues, HUF 39.1 bn loss and HUF 3.8 bn negative equity for end-2012.

The report has caused no surprise given prior news on the transaction. Due to the deepening of the economic crisis and the domestic policy turnaround in Germany in wake of the Fukishima nuclear disaster RWE was forced to revise its strategy and reduce its debt. Liquidating its minority packages and holdings that are less profitable fits into this strategy.

RWE has a similar-sized minority package in Főgáz Zrt., but Budapest mayor Tarlós said in an interview earlier that the municipality is unlikely to carry out major repurchases in the current government cycle. The German utility holds a majority interest in Elmű-Émász electricity distributors and the Mátra Power Plant.

Source;Serbia Energy See desk/Agencies