H.K. tycoon's consortium to buy British electricity provider

30th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

A consortium led by Hong Kong's richest man Li Ka-shing has won a bid to buy the British arm of French electricity provider EDF for more than nine billion dollars, Dow Jones Newswires reported Friday.

The agreement to buy EDF Energy is worth 5.8 billion pounds (9.05 billion dollars), and will be the biggest acquisition in Britain by a Hong Kong entity, it quoted a source close to the deal as saying.

The consortium includes Li's Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings, Hongkong Electric Holdings and the Li Ka Shing Foundation.

It beat out rival bids from Scottish & Southern Energy and a consortium comprising the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, Macquarie Capital and Canada Pension Plan, the source said.

EDF Energy, the largest electricity supplier in Britain, is owned by EDF (Electricite de France), which said in October it had put its three distribution grids up for sale as it tries to reduce its debts.

The French state owns 85 percent of EDF, which operates France's 58 nuclear reactors, the world's biggest network of atomic power plants.

The deal is Li's fifth purchase in Britain, and comes as he tries to increase his ownership of lucrative utilities overseas in a bid to broaden his earnings base due to difficulties in expanding in Hong Kong.

He also has interests in New Zealand, Australia and Canada.

Trading in Cheung Kong Infrastructure and Hongkong Electric was suspended in Hong Kong on Friday pending an official announcement.

With a fortune of 21.3 billion US dollars, Li is the world's 16th richest person, according to an annual Forbes magazine ranking in November.

© 2010 AFP

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