Grid bids sought
UK company invites Chinese firms for gas-distribution work
National Grid Plc has selected a consortium of investors that includes Allianz SE and the infrastructure arm of Australian investment bank Macquarie Group Ltd as potential bidders for its UK gas distribution business, people familiar with the matter said.
Two separate groups of Chinese investors, including one led by Fosun International Ltd and another by China Resources Gas Group Ltd, have also been invited tomake final bids for the assets by the November deadline, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. A group of investors that included Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Middle Eastern wealth funds has dropped out, the people said.
Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings Ltd is also weighing a second-round bid, though the company is analyzing potential regulatory hurdles first, one of the people said.
National Grid is selling at least 51 percent of its UK gas distribution unit, made up of four regional networks, which RBC Capital Markets estimates could be worth as much as 12.6 billion pounds ($15.4 billion). Selling the stake in the regional gas business, which serves almost 11 million customers, will allow National Grid to increase its dividend and meet annual asset growth targets of 5 to 7 percent, the company has said.
Spokesmen for National Grid, Macquarie, Allianz, CPPIB and Fosun declined to comment. Representatives for China Resources Gas and Cheung Kong Infrastructure didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
National Grid shares fell 0.8 percent to 1,060 pence at 11:30 am in London trading. They have risen 13 percent this year.
British utility assets historically attract foreign companies that favor steady income generation, such as pension funds and other asset managers. Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management Inc bought PNE Wind AG’s UK project pipeline last year for as much as 103 million pounds. A consortium backed by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing in 2012 agreed to buy gas distributor Wales & West Utilities Ltd for 645 million pounds.
National Grid Plc employees stand on a suspended platform as they work to replace insulators on an electricity pylon in Kendal, UK.