LONDON (Reuters) – Europe’s largest utility company, Enel, is considering entering a race for British power company Western Power Distribution (WPD), as part of a consortium suggested by investment bank Rothschild, two sources close to the matter said.
Also in progress are the Global Infrastructure Partners’ investment and pension funds, Brookfield Asset Management and CDPQ, which have formed a consortium, and a group led by the infrastructure investment arm of Macquarie Group Australia, PSP Investments Canada and the Dutch pension fund APG, the said. source.
The sale, launched by current US utility PPL Corp owner in August, has faced a series of delays, partly due to uncertainty at the end of last year about whether Britain will leave the European Union without a trade deal, earlier sources said.
A binding offer is now tentatively expected at the end of February, two separate sources said.
Based on earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of 1.25 billion pounds ($ 1.67 billion) for the financial year ended March, WPD could be assessed for up to 12 billion pounds.
Enel CEO Francesco Starace said in November the company would pursue mergers and acquisitions in the distribution network and had allocated around 46% of spending to its regulated network business.
Enel declined to comment on his interest in the WPD. Rothschild declined to comment.
While the process has not been contested much, given the size of the assets and the impending regulatory regime for the UK network, which establishes a fixed return on investment for network owners, PPL and its adviser JP Morgan have gauged the interest of many European utilities and investment funds.
Spanish energy group Naturgy, which is reported to be considering partnering with Germany’s Allianz, has refrained from expressing interest, the two sources said.
WPD delivers electricity to about eight million customers in central and southwest England, and south Wales, according to its website.
Reporting by Stephen Jewkes in Milan and Clara Denina in London. Additional reporting by Arno Schuetze. Edited by Mark Potter