GDF Australia Assets Said to Draw Interest From PTT, Keppel

Aug 19, 2014 1:45 am ET

(Updates with PTT acquisition in eighth paragraph.)

Aug. 19 (Bloomberg) -- GDF Suez SA’s sale of a stake in its Australian power business has drawn interest from companies including Thailand’s PTT Pcl and Singapore-based Keppel Infrastructure Trust, people with knowledge of the matter said.

France’s largest gas supplier is seeking more than A$400 million ($374 million) for a stake of about 30 percent in the unit, which operates gas-fired, coal and renewable power plants in three Australian states, said the people, asking not to be identified as the details are private.

Foreign purchases of Australian assets are on track this year to reach to the highest level since 2007, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Last quarter, overseas buyers struck a record $40 billion of deals for Australian businesses including department-store operator David Jones Ltd., the data show.

GDF Suez has been hurt by lower demand for gas-fired power during Europe’s economic slump, leading it to close or mothball more than 11,000 megawatts of capacity. The company, which also operates atomic reactors and offshore gas platforms, in February wrote down 14.9 billion euros ($20 billion) in asset values and goodwill and said it may cut dividends.

The Australian unit owns six power plants, including the coal-fired Hazelwood and Loy Yang B facilities in Victoria state, with a total generating capacity of 3,538 megawatts, according to GDF’s local website. It also runs an electricity retail business under the Simply Energy brand.

Hess Deal

Trevor Rowe, a Melbourne-based spokesman for GDF Suez Australia, declined to comment. A spokesman for Keppel Infrastructure said the company is “always on the lookout for potential opportunities to create value.” PTT President Pailin Chuchottaworn couldn’t immediately be reached for comment when called at his Bangkok office.

Courbevoie-based GDF, part-owned by the French government, sold a 28 percent stake in five of its Australian assets to Mitsui & Co. in October, according to its website. The Japanese company offered about 300 million euros for the stake, Les Echos reported Oct. 2.

PTT Exploration & Production Pcl, Thailand’s biggest publicly traded oil and natural gas explorer and a unit of PTT, agreed in April to pay about $1 billion for Hess Corp.’s stakes in oil and gas assets in Thailand.

--With assistance from Kyunghee Park in Singapore and Suttinee Yuvejwattana in Bangkok.