Gas Natural to Raise $1.23 Billion From Mexico Sale

Gas Natural SDG SA agreed to sell stakes in its generation businesses in Mexico, raising about $1.23 billion as the Spanish utility divests assets after buying Union Fenosa SA.

Gas Natural reached an accord with Mitsui & Co. and Tokyo Gas Co. to transfer 76 percent stakes in seven Mexican units by selling new shares, allowing it to reduce investment, the Barcelona-based company said today in a regulatory filing. Mitsui and TGC will have an option to acquire, or Gas Natural to sell, the remaining stakes next year, the utility said.

The company is selling the Mexican businesses it acquired two years ago from Electricite de France SA and Mitsubishi Corp. to meet competition rules and cut debt after buying Fenosa. The agreement ends the asset-sales process related to that purchase, according to Gas Natural, which has so far sold or pledged to sell 3.6 billion euros ($5.2 billion) of assets. The utility will unveil a new strategic plan by the end of June, it said.

"This transaction will be one of the biggest done by Gas Natural as part of its disinvestment plan, allowing it to achieve a more balanced exposure to the Mexican market," the company said in the statement.

Gas Natural will also get $240 million in cash in recompense for contributions to the Mexican companies and debts, the utility said. The sale won't generate "significant" one- time gains, it said.

[Source: By Charles Penty, Bloomberg, NY, 24Dec09]

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