CPP looks to invest in EDF Energy

UNITED KINGDOM - The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board is planning to make a joint bid for EDF Energy, the giant UK electricity distribution network owned by France’s Electricité de France, reports said.

The deal could be worth (US) $7.9-billion, the reports said.

The potential deal would be made in partnership with Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund with Goldman Sachs advising the bidders, Dow Jones reported after news of a possible bid appeared on the French website Wansquare.

The CPPIB has had its eye on EDF Group, the parent of EDF Energy, for a while. The fund has held 104,000 shares in the French company since March.

EDF Group, one of the largest energy companies in Europe, said in October it was looking to reduce its debt by at least 5-billion euros by the end of 2010 by exploring “ownership options” for EDF Energy, which provides electricity to more than 5.

5 million people and businesses in London as well as southern and eastern England.

This would not be the CPPIB’s first foray into European investments. And if the reports are confirmed, it would appear to be part of its plan to take a more aggressive stance on worldwide infrastructure acquisitions.

The CPPIB picked up a 50% stake in Scotland’s second-largest shopping mall, the Glasgow Silverburn Mall, for about $250-million. This increased the CPPIB’s real-estate assets in the United Kingdom to more than $1-billion, the fund told the Financial Post at the time.

Two days after that, unitholders of Livingston International Income Fund approved an amended joint offer the investment board made with Sterling Partners for the trust for about $324.4-million. The pair had initially agreed to a purchase price of about $273-million in October. Livingston is a trust that owns Livingston International Inc., a leading North American customs, transportation and logistics services company.

In November, the CPPIB partnered with TPG Capital to pick up IMS Health, a leading market-intelligence provider for pharmaceutical and health-care businesses, in a deal worth $5.4-billion.

It was also part of a group that purchased a 70% stake in eBay Inc.’s Skype communications unit for about $2.1-billion in cash and debt in the same month.

Meanwhile, the CPPIB and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan made a joint bid for Australian toll-road company Transurban Group at the end of October worth $6.77-billion (Cdn $6.3-billion) that was ultimately rejected.

In August, the fund committed to joint real-estate and logistics ventures in Brazil and China.

And in June, the CPPIB shelled out about $1.52-billion for Macquarie Communications Infrastructure Group.

The CPPIB, founded by an act of Parliament in 1997, invests pension assets that are not being used to pay the benefits of 17 million Canadians. As of September 2009, the investment board’s portfolio was worth $123.8-billion.


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