GNF's CGE takeover transforms Chile's gas, power landscape

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Monday, October 13, 2014

The acquisition by Spain's Gas Natural Fenosa (GNF) of Chilean power holding CGE will give GNF an immediate advantage in a stable and growing market, according to CEO Rafael Villaseca.

GNF is set to buy CGE for 2.6bn euros (US$3.3bn), representing the largest international acquisition in the company's history.

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The deal gives GNF control of Chile's leading high tension line operator and natural gas distribution company, respectively, in CGE subsidiaries Transnet and Gasco.

"Chile is an investor-friendly country with a solid regulatory environment," Villaseca said in a conference call regarding the acquisition.

GNF first acquired a 54.2% stake in CGE, and will now launch a public offer to take over 100% of the company for 4,700 pesos per share, a GNF statement said.

CGE is Chile's largest power distributor, serving 40% of the local market, while Gasco boasts 27% of the LPG market.

"By the virtue of its size and characteristics," Villaseca said, [Chile] gives GNF an immediate leading position in both gas and power."

The takeover follows a contract secured in May by GNF to supply LNG to mining giant BHP Billiton's 517MW Kelar thermo plant. The plant will power the Escondida mine, the world's largest copper operation.

The gas will come from the Quintero LNG terminal, in which Gasco subsidiary Metrogas holds a 20% stake.

LNG appears poised to take off in Chile, where social opposition has stymied large-scale hydro and thermo plants.

Chile is expanding capacity at Quintero, one of the country's two LNG terminals. A third is expected. The country is also scheduled to begin importing US-produced LNG by end-2015.

The government has also prioritized transmission line expansion and the inclusion of renewable energy producers in regulated market power auctions, both of which bode well for the transmission and distribution sectors.

CGE's Ebitda totaled US$743mn in 2013, with 96% coming from the local energy market.

BNamericas will host its 11th Southern Cone Energy Summit in Lima, Peru, on November 12-13. Click here to download the agenda.