4 Nov 2008

Powerco stake sold for $440m

1:00 pm on 4 November 2008

Babcock & Brown has sold half its interest in Powerco for about $400 million. Powerco is New Zealand's second largest power network.

In August, the Australian company put half the network up for sale, as its share price crashed under falling profits and questions over its ability to pay down its debts.

Babcock & Brown will still retain a half stake in Powerco, reflecting the steady returns it can get from 400,000 electricity and gas customers across the central and lower North Island.

That's also a key reason for the buyer, Australian institutional fund manager, QIC Infrastructure, which says Powerco's stable, long term returns is a good match for superannuation funds.

QIC also says the Powerco acquisition will give it a broader geographical and sectoral spread.

The fund manager was set up two years ago, and has a global portfolio of about $2 billion in unlisted infrastructure investments.

Babcock & Brown has been selling assets due to the global financial crisis. It used a lot of debt to buy infrastructure assets, which it sold into listed funds and then managed for big fees.

BBI said it would realise around $NZ400 million from the sale.