Canadian pension in €150m Belgian gas deal

Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec has acquired a direct 10% stake in Fluxys G, a Belgian natural gas transmission operator. The deal adds to the Canadian pension giant’s growing collection of stakes in gas infrastructure companies.

Publigas, the municipal holding company for Belgian natural gas companies, has agreed in principle to sell a 10 percent stake in Fluxys G to Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec (the Caisse), the Canadian pension manager. The deal, which is subject to approval by Publigas’ board of directors (expected to happen in the first half of 2011), is being funded by a capital increase of up to €150 million.
   
The opportunity for the deal arose in March last year when Electrabel, the Benelux energy solutions provider, sold its 38.5 percent stake in Fluxys G to Publigas for €636 million. This led Publigas, which following the deal had an 89.97 percent stake, to seek new partners in the shareholder base at a time when Fluxys G is seeking to expand its operations. 

Fluxys G is a transmission infrastructure company operating in the north-western European natural gas market where it aims to enhance security of supply and the functioning of the market by promoting cross-border natural gas flows and transfers in the region. In Belgium, it builds and operates infrastructure for natural gas transmission, natural gas storage and liquefied natural gas terminalling.       

The deal adds to the  Caisse’s existing portfolio of direct stakes in gas transport infrastructure companies, including:  Gaz Metro, a Quebec-based natural gas distribution company; Enbridge Energy Partners, an operator of energy infrastructure in the US; and Interconnector (UK), a subsea gas pipeline between the UK and continental Europe, in which the Caisse has an existing 33.5 percent stake and Fluxys has a 15 percent stake.

Last December, the Caisse agreed to acquire a 36.7 percent stake in UK water company South East Water from Australian fund manager Hastings Funds Management for A$206 million (€151 million; $208 million).

At the end of last year, the Caisse held C$131.6 billion in net assets under management.