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Ayala affiliate raises stake in Australia’s Infigen

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AN AFFILIATE company of Ayala Corp.’s energy arm now owns a material interest in an Australian power firm, which it initially aims to fully take over.

UAC Energy Holdings said it received 20% shareholding interests in Infigen Energy Ltd. from the share purchases of its A$0.86-per-share bid, as of Wednesday.

The energy firm, which is 75% owned by AC Energy, Inc., seemingly conceded the full acquisition of Infigen to its rival bidder Iberdrola, S.A., which hiked its offer price to A$0.92 per share last week upon receiving more share tenders.

Still, the company is “pleased” to have met its objective of securing a material stake in Infigen.

“The offer was not predicated on control, and was therefore not subject to a minimum acceptance condition,” UAC Energy Chairman Anton Rohner said.

UAC Energy’s total investment in Infigen is valued at A$178 million, or about US$128 million, based on Iberdrola’s offer price.

The investment provides an “attractive” means of improving the company’s exposure to the Australian clean energy bloc, according to Jose Maria P. Zabaleta, AC Energy chief development officer and a director of UAC.

He added that AC Energy has a more strengthened outlook for its Infigen investment as Iberdrola is poised to become its largest shareholder.

Currently, the Spanish multinational utility owns a fourth of the renewables firm’s total securities. It has extended until Aug. 7 the acceptances for its bid.

To recall, UAC Energy and Iberdrola pounced on the renewable energy company after its share prices dropped with the fall in power prices in the country. Infigen owns and operates wind farms with a total of 670 megawatts in capacity, along with gas, battery and contracted assets.

Iberdrola is one of the biggest energy players in the world having over 55 gigawatts of installed capacity in Spain, the United Kingdom, South America, and the United States. It powers around 34 million consumers worldwide.

UPC\AC Renewables Australia, the joint-venture firm of the AC Energy and Hong Kong-based UPC Renewables Group, holds the remaining interest in UAC Energy.

In the first half of the year, AC Energy commenced the construction of some 700-megawatt renewables projects in the Philippines, Vietnam, India and Australia which have a combined cost of A$1.23 billion.

“We are committed to the Australian renewables sector, which will continue to form part of our core strategy,” said AC Energy Chief Executive Officer Eric T. Francia.

Shares in Ayala Corp. inched up 0.14% to close at P723 apiece on Wednesday. — Adam J. Ang

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