SSE to Sell $755 Million Stake in Scotia Gas to Abu Dhabi

  • RBC says asset sale price is higher than expectations
  • SSE expects transaction to be completed by end of October

SSE Plc, Britain’s second-biggest energy supplier, agreed to sell a 16.7 percent stake in its Scotia Gas Networks distribution business to the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.

The 621 million-pound ($755 million) sale will be completed by the end of this month, SSE said Monday in an e-mailed statement. The Perth, Scotland-based company, which will keep a 33.3 percent equity stake in Scotia Gas, will outline its plans for the proceeds in an interim results statement on Nov. 9.

The deal follows a slump in profit at SSE and a writedown of power-generation and natural gas production assets by almost 1 billion pounds. The company purchased a 50 percent stake in Scotia Gas in 2005 for 505 million pounds. The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of this month, with the consideration being settled in cash.

The agreed price is higher than expected and “this should be taken as a positive by the market,” John Musk, a utilities analyst at RBC Europe Ltd., said in an e-mailed note.

After completing the sale, SSE will have an ownership interest in five energy networks valued at more than 7 billion pounds. The company expects this to increase, following investment, to almost 8.5 billion pounds by March 2018.

SSE shares dropped 0.3 percent to 1,542 pence as of 8:39 a.m. local time. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index fell 0.5 percent.

If proceeds from the transaction are returned to shareholders, “it could provide a short-term positive catalyst for the share price,” Jefferies International Ltd. said. “We continue to believe that SSE faces headwinds in its domestic energy supply and power generation business at a time of heightened policy risk in the U.K.”

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