Allianz leads €601m Austrian gas deal

The German asset manager has teamed up with Italy’s Snam to acquire Gas Connect Austria from a Vienna-based oil group.

Allianz Capital Partners and Italian gas operator Snam have agreed to buy an Austrian gas firm from energy group OMV in a deal worth €601 million.

The pair sealed the deal for 49 percent of Gas Connect Austria, the operator of a 900km high-pressure gas pipeline grid in the Central European country, through a joint vehicle held 60 percent by Allianz and 40 percent by Snam. The bid was boosted by a group of international banks, which are providing €310 million of non-recourse debt financing.

The transaction concludes a months-long auction process kicked off after OMV announced its decision to divest a minority stake in the grid earlier this year. The Austrian oil and gas firm is looking to restructure its gas business as it seeks to weather low oil prices.

The deal has been criticised by Austria’s Social Democratic Party, the country’s largest political party, which favoured state ownership of a stake in the gas network over a sale to foreign investors. However, despite the Austrian state’s investment arm owning a 31.5% stake in OMV, the government maintained it would not intervene in a private business matter.

Allianz and Snam trumped separate bids from Macquarie and Czech energy group EPH, according to reports.