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16.04.2007 Business & Finance

TICO shares take-over done deal

By myjoyonline

Despite the widely published protestations of the Kufuor administration, the change in ownership of the 90% majority stake in Takoradi International Company, the firm that owns and runs the Takoradi Thermal Power Plant, appears to be a done deal.

Indeed, the Kufuor administration's position - that it would consider whether or not to accept the change of ownership - is seen as anomalous by the international investment community.

This is because, contrary to popular understanding, the sale of the majority stake in the Takoradi Thermal Plant is simply the result of a much bigger transaction through which the erstwhile majority shareholder, CMS Generation, was sold by its parent company, CMS Energy, to the Takoradi Plant's new majority shareholders, Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (TAQA).

The sale, for US$900 million, thus involves a transfer of all CMS Generation's assets to TAQA. Apart from the Takoradi Power Plant, these comprise stakes in two major power and desalination projects in the United Arab Emirates, the Jorf Lasfar Energy Company in Morocco, the Jubail Energy Company in Saudi Arabia, and the ST CMS Company in India.

CMS Generation's non-utility transferred to its parent company, CMS Energy.

The takeover was a friendly one. CMS Generation and TAQA's majority owner, the Abu Dhabi Water Electricity Authority (ADWEA), are long-term partners. These two, as joint venture partners, developed, constructed and operate two major power and desalination projects in the United Arab Emirates.

Ghanaian analysts and commentators have been pondering why CMS would be selling its stake in the Takoradi plant at a time that energy supply in Ghana is falling far short of demand thus indicating that electricity prices, and therefore revenues, are likely to rise over the short-term as well as the long-term, and have pointed accusing fingers at electricity subsidies for CMS's divestiture of its stake.

However, BusinessWeek can now reveal that the situation in Ghana was not a major factor in the change of ownership at the Takoradi Plant. Rather, CMS Energy sold its subsidiary, CMS Generation, primarily to reduce its corporate debt burden and strengthen its balance sheet. "This sale will accelerate our financial recovery by strengthening our balance sheet and credit ratios," emphasises David Joos, President and Chief Executive of CMS Energy.

TAQA, the new majority shareholder of the Takoradi plant, is one of the leading electricity generation and water desalination groups in the UAE. (TAQA means "Energy" in Arabic). Established in 2005 and listed on the Abu Dhabi stock market, it is 51 % owned by the Government of Abu Dhabi, through ADWEA.

The fund for the support of farm owners in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi (also wholly government owned) holds 24.1% and UAB nationals own 24.9%.
TAQA, through its 54% shareholdings in six different independent water and power producers, provides more than 85% of the water and electricity produced in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, the largest of the seven United Arab Emirates, and their capital.

The purchase of CMS Generation and its assets across Africa, Asia and the Middle East is part of TAQA's long-term strategy of being the Emirate of Abu Dhabi's primary conduct for strategic investment in the global energy sector.

As part of mid-2006 TAQA had more than US$8.69 billion in assets, providing some 6,300 megawatts of net power generation capacity and 591 million gallons per day of net water desalination capacity.

With government still protesting the change of ownership of the Takoradi Plant without its prior consent being sought, no plans have been announced concerning future plans for the Takoradi Plant or any new power generation facilities.

CMS Generation and the 10% minority shareholder, the Volta River Authority had plans for significant expansion of capacity at Takoradi when the West African Gas Pipeline, linking Ghana to Nigeria's vast natural gas resources, comes on stream, expectedly next year.

Culled from BusinessWeek