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Friday, October 22, 2004
German company Ruhrgas, part of the world's largest utilities company E.ON, yesterday signed the 304 million-euro privatisation contract for a 51% stake in the natural gas distributor, Distrigaz Nord.
The deal with Ruhrgas is the Romanian State's first real privatisation in that it involves the sale to a private company of the majority share in a state-owned company.
The overall financial volume of the engagement amounts to EUR 303 million. Through the privatisation, E.ON Ruhrgas is acquiring, in a first step, a 30 % share in Distrigaz Nord for the amount of EUR 125 million. This share will be increased to 51 % through a definite capital increase by EUR 178 million. The remaining 49 % of the share capital will remain in public ownership. The transaction is subject to the approval of the Romanian cartel authorities.
According to officials from the Ministry of Economy and Trade, the transaction (the purchasing of the 30% stake and the capital increase) will be completed by the end of the year.
The Ruhrgas offer values the entire Distrigaz Nord stock at 416 million euros. The offer by the Germans is very similar to the proposition made by Gaz de France, which took over Distrigaz Sud for 311 million euros, paying 128 million euros for 30% of the shares.
The price appears much higher since the value of the regulatory asset base released by the Natural Gas Regulation Authority is bigger in the case of Distrigaz Sud than in the case of the other gas distributor.
The regional gas company Distrigaz Nord, so far 100 % publicly owned, is responsible for natural gas trade and distribution in the northern part of Romania.
It supplies approx. 4.6 billion m3 of natural gas annually to approx. one million customers and operates an approx. 17,000 km gas pipeline grid.
The Romanian gas market is the strongest sales market in central and eastern Europe. With a share of 37 %, natural gas is the most important primary fuel in the country.
Approx. 16 billion m3 of natural gas were consumed in 2003. Demand is expected to increase continuously over the next few years. Romania currently covers approx. 70 % of its natural gas demand by gas from indigenous sources, which are, however, declining. Approx. 30 % of the natural gas is imported from Russia.
Besides Distrigaz Nord, E.ON Ruhrgas has already acquired shares in the Romanian power and heat generator CCNE and in the Romanian gas supplier S.C. Congaz S.A.
Posted by Iulia Rasoiu : 10/22/2004 11:56:00 am
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