GIP, co-investors splash €3.8bn on Gas Natural

The US fund manager is investing in the Spanish energy giant via GIP III, which is targeting $12bn.

Global Infrastructure Partners and a group of co-investors from its latest vehicle have agreed to buy 20 percent of Gas Natural in a close to €4 billion transaction.

The US fund manager-led team will acquire the stake from Spanish lender Criteria Caixa and energy group Repsol in a deal that will make GIP the second-largest shareholder in the business once completed. The price offered by the manager, at €19 a share, values the stake at €3.8 billion.

Criteria Caixa will remain the largest shareholder in Gas Natural, with 24.4 percent, while Repsol will be on par with GIP at 20 percent. The two companies are selling 10 percent each to the US manager.

GIP will acquire the asset via GIP III, a fund it has been raising since last year with a $12 billion target. As of April, the firm had collected $10.8 billion for the vehicle, which has a $15 billion hard-cap.

Should it hit it, GIP III would become the largest infrastructure fund ever raised, edging ahead of Brookfield’s $14 billion Infrastructure Fund III, closed by the Canadian firm in July.

Spanish-listed Gas Natural, which has a presence in more than 23 countries and serves over 20 million customers, operates all across the gas value chain. In particular, it owns the largest gas distribution network in Spain and other grids in Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Mexico.

It is also the third-largest electricity distribution business in Spain and has “leading market shares” in Chile and Panama, GIP said in a statement.

The move fits with the divestment strategy of large Spanish oil corporates at a time of low energy prices, with Repsol selling as much as €3.2 billion worth of assets so far this year. Other assets sold by the company include a UK wind farm and liquefied petroleum gas businesses in Peru and Ecuador.