Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings Ltd., the road and utility company controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing, said it’s looking at more than 20 assets globally for possible acquisition.
“If we manage to get one asset out of 20, that would not be too bad,” Chairman Victor Li said at a media briefing in Hong Kong today, declining to comment if the company has placed a bid for E.ON AG’s U.K. power assets.
Cheung Kong Infrastructure, known as CKI, and its sister company Power Assets Holdings Ltd. are expanding overseas to counter slowing growth in the Hong Kong power market. E.ON’s U.K. power grid has drawn interest from CKI, MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. and PPL Corp. in a sale that may fetch about $6 billion, people with knowledge of the talks said last month.
“We never ever bid on anything with a must-win mentality,” the elder son of Li-Ka-shing said, adding that CKI is examining assets in countries that it operates in. “We look at what is fair value. We don’t want to bid aggressively.”
A group led by CKI and including Power Assets concluded the 5.8 billion-pound ($9.4 billion) purchase of Electricite de France SA’s U.K. power grid networks in October, in Li Ka- shing’s biggest acquisition overseas. Other purchases in the past year include the 211.7 million-pound acquisition of a 50 percent stake in the U.K. power producer Seabank Power Ltd.
Shares of CKI rose 29 percent in the past 12 months in Hong Kong, outstripping the 15 percent gain by the benchmark Hang Seng index in the same period. The stock climbed 0.1 percent to HK$38.45 at the midday break. E.ON advanced 0.4 percent to close at 23.775 euros in Frankfurt yesterday.
E.ON, the world’s largest utility by sales, was working with Barclays Capital and JPMorgan Chase & Co. on the possible sale of its U.K. power grid, two people with knowledge of the matter said on Nov. 24.
The utility, based in Dusseldorf, Germany, was considering a sale of U.K. electricity lines as part of a plan to sell 15 billion euros ($20.4 billion) of assets by the end of 2013 to reduce debt, said the people, who asked to remain anonymous as E.ON’s plans are private. The banks were asked to advise the utility on options after the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board approached E.ON about buying the asset, according to another person.
E.ON wants to raise 15 billion euros through asset disposals by the end of 2013, Chief Executive Officer Johannes Teyssen said Nov. 10, without specifying which businesses the company will sell. The utility has electricity networks in Germany, the U.K., Sweden and eastern Europe.
Power Assets may bid for E.ON’s U.K. assets, Group Managing Director Tso Kai-sum said on Feb. 16. National Grid Plc, owner of the U.K.’s high-voltage power grid, is among the bidders, a person with knowledge of the matter said on the same day.
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