Credit Agricole Buys Stake in French Wind Assets From GDF

Credit Agricole Assurances, the insurance unit of the French bank, acquired a 50 percent stake in a portfolio of French wind-energy assets from GDF Suez SA.

The assets comprise 440 megawatts of installed onshore capacity, the companies said today in a joint statement. While financial terms weren’t disclosed, GDF Suez said the deal would lower its net debt by about 400 million euros ($549 million).

GDF Suez, France’s former natural-gas monopoly, has been hurt by lower demand for gas-fired power in Europe. It’s divesting and closing plants in the region to contain costs while seeking expansion in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Paris-based Credit Agricole SA is among companies tapping infrastructure assets that can earn steady returns for decades.

The bank’s insurance unit will hold its stake in the wind assets through its Predica subsidiary, the statement shows. GDF Suez, which will continue to oversee their development, construction and operation, said it’s seeking to raise total wind capacity in France to 2,000 megawatts by 2016 from 1,200 megawatts now.

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