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    OMV Offloads Stake in Austrian TSO


OMV is on a divestment programme, while buyer Verbund says the deal could help it develop a hydrogen business.

by: Joe Murphy

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OMV Offloads Stake in Austrian TSO

Austria's OMV agreed to sell its remaining 51% stake in transmission system operator Gas Connect Austria to the country's biggest power firm Verbund, the companies said on September 23.

The deal, which had expected for some time, is due to be closed in the first half of 2021, subject to regulatory approvals. Verbund will pay OMV €271mn ($317m), while also assuming Gas Connect's liabilities to OMV which totalled €165.9mn at the end of 2019. 

OMV said the transaction would lower its debt by over €570mn, and was in line with its strategic withdrawal from the regulated gas transport business. Gas storage and trading will remain a core part of its portfolio, however.

The oil company sold a 49% interest in Gas Connect to Munich-based financial group Allianz and Italy's Snam in 2016. It is looking to shed €2bn ($2.3bn) of assets by the end of 2021, to shore up its financial position and fund a $4.7bn deal to expand its control of UAE petrochemicals firm Borealis.

Verbund said the deal could help it develop a hydrogen business in the future, by bringing together Gas Connect's pipelines and its own renewable energy operations.

"As a bridging technology, gas will continue to play a key role on the path to a renewable energy system," Verbund deputy chairman Michael Strugl said. "The importance of the gas network will grow significantly in future as it will increasingly be used to transport green gases such as green hydrogen."