Azura Sees Investment Potential in Private Nigeria Power Market

Azura Power West Africa Ltd., a Nigerian electricity producer, said the sale by the government of power assets offered “huge” opportunities for investors after it secured backing for a new $1 billion plant.

The company signed a financial deal for its 450-megawatt Azura-Edo power station with a group of local and international lenders, it said in an e-mailed statement today. The package includes $530 million of debt and $220 million of equity.

“The opportunity is huge,” Azura Chief Executive Officer David Ladipo said in an interview today in Abuja, the capital. There are “constant power outages, a huge population of 170 million people, and very little power. The gap between demand and supply is vast.” Nigeria’s power industry will grow at about 10 percent a year, he said.

Nigeria sold control of 14 power companies to new owners last year including Munich-based Siemens AG, Korea Electric Power Corp. and Lagos-based Transnational Corp. of Nigeria Plc to attract private investment to reduce blackouts. Electricity demand is more than double the supply in Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy and most populous country. Government incentives to investors including tax breaks and permission to raise electricity tariffs, according to the Abuja-based Bureau of Public Enterprises.

Lenders for the Azura-Edo plant include Standard Chartered Bank, the lead fundraiser, Rand Merchant Bank, First City Monument Bank Plc and FMO, the Dutch development finance company. Construction is expected to start in the next few months and will be led by Siemens AG and Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, the country’s biggest construction company.

Azura is owned by investment firms Amaya Capital Partners and American Capital Energy & Infrastructure. The Azura-Edo plant, which will come on stream in 2017, represents the first phase of a 1,500-megawatt facility in the southern Edo state near a government transmission line, and on the Escravos-Lagos gas pipeline corridor.

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