Utility continues buying spree

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National utility Energias de Portugal (EDP) acquired in December, via its renewable energy subsidiary Novas Energias do Ocidente (NEO), three interrelated Spanish wind developers, Tarcan, Ceasa, and Agrupación Eólica, for EUR 346 million. The deal was followed by EDP's announcement of plans to invest EUR 2.6 billion in expanding its wind business in Europe and the US -- mainly through acquisitions -- aimed at raising its global installed wind capacity to 4200 MW by 2010, from 1568 MW at the end of 2006.

The price tag of EDP's Spanish acquisitions includes EUR 64 million in financial debts. The transaction follows Ceasa's sale in November of 300 MW of its development portfolio to Italian-Spanish utility renewables joint venture ENEL Unión Fenosa Energías Renovables (EUFER). For the remaining CEASA assets, EDP beat bids from EUFER, Spanish renewables giant Acciona, and Endesa, the country's top utility. The winning bid was supported by banks ABN AMRO and Espírito Santo Investimento. It is not subject to regulatory approval, says EDP.

The three Spanish companies all operate in the renewable energy sectors in France and Spain, with a combined wind portfolio of 1999 MW, of which 155 MW is already in operation. A further 52 MW is building and 992 MW is in various stages of development. EDP said the project pipelines acquired are split equally between France and Spain, strengthening its plans for growth in both countries. Those in Spain are mainly in the Aragón and Catalonia regions.

The purchase of the three Spanish developers follows NEO's takeover in 2005 of Spanish developer Desarrollos Eólicos, together with its 275 MW of operational wind capacity and a 1200 MW pipeline. NEO finished 2006 with 1060 MW of wind capacity online in Spain, after adding 353 MW last year, partly from the acquisition of other smaller Spanish developers.

EDP also holds "great expectations for the French wind market," says Javier Mateache of NEO International. CEASA has been developing projects in France since 1998 and now has 100 MW lined up for final permitting, with a further 100 MW processing. NEO already has 20 MW turning in the country with a further 10 MW building. The company is now finalising negotiations for turbines from Spain's Ecotècnia for a fully licensed 12 MW project.

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