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    Uniper Sells Stake in Italian Import Terminal


The buyer is an experienced infrastructure operator.

by: William Powell

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Natural Gas and LNG Latest & Breaking News, Europe, Corporate, Mergers & Acquisitions, Infrastructure, News By Country, Italy

Uniper Sells Stake in Italian Import Terminal

German utility Uniper has sold its 48.2% stake in Italian import terminal operator Offshore LNG Toscana (OLT) to US First State Investments for about €400mn ($450mn), it said March 22.

OLT’s other shareholders are Italy-based generator and distributor Iren Group, which has a 49.1% stake; and vessel operator Golar LNG, which has a 2.7% stake. Uniper said the proceeds at closing later this year are expected to be around €340mn.

The unit is about 22 km from the Tuscan coast between Pisa and Livorno and can regasify 3.75bn m³/year. The business is subject to Italian regulation. In February, it said it was working at almost 100% of its capacity, less than a year after it brought in an auction to allocate capacity. Globally LNG prices are depressed as the mild winter has coincided with more production capacity, so more has come to Europe.

Uniper is developing LNG import capacity at Wilhelmshaven in Germany, with ExxonMobil a major capacity buyer if final investment decision is taken; and it trades LNG worldwide. OLT is a regulated asset and for Uniper a purely financial minority participation. It said owning the stake did not help it expand and optimise its own LNG portfolio.

Uniper COO Eckhardt Rummler said First State Investments was an experienced infrastructure operator and "we’ve always said that selected existing gas infrastructure investments which we consider as strategic non-core assets may be suitable for portfolio rotation. That means that we would reinvest the sale proceeds in our growth businesses that generate attractive returns."

The closing of the transaction is still subject to the approval of the competent authorities as well as other customary conditions, 

First State Investments is the international arm of Colonial First State Global Asset Management, which has over €127bn managed on behalf of investors worldwide.