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Energy sector deals to increase, PwC says

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only
by Staff Writers
Frankfurt, Germany (UPI) Feb 23, 2011
Consolidation in the global power and gas sector sped up last year thanks to an increase in deals in the United States and stabilization in Europe, a new study suggests.

The volume of mergers and acquisitions in 2010 rose to $116 billion, a 19 percent increase from the previous year, auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers said in a power deals study released Wednesday.

PwC said it expects this trend to continue this year.

"The reaction to date of U.S. regulators to the 2010 announced deals suggests that the door is now more open to a greater flow of regulated utility deals in the United States as companies scale up to deliver renewal and expansion programs," PwC wrote in the study. "Leading European companies will be weighing up moves to step up their international presence in growth markets. We also expect to see a continuation of outbound Chinese and Asia Pacific investment in Europe, the United States and other regions in 2011."

The deal volume in the power sector, excluding renewable, increased 17 percent to $103.7 billion, while the volume of transactions in the gas sector jumped 43 percent to $12.3 billion, PwC said. This comes after a quiet 2009 that was dominated by falling energy demand due to the economic crisis.

The revival was due mainly to a flurry of national deals, which made up 70 percent of the transaction volumes, PwC said.

Transactions targeting the U.S. energy sector dominated last year, with sales volumes there more than doubling from $12.3 billion in 2009 to $32.8 billion last year.

"Especially in the United States, utilities merged," Manfred Wiegand, a PwC partner and one of the key authors of the report, said in a statement e-mailed to reporters. "For this year, we expect more international transactions that will mainly feature Asian investors as buyers."

The M&A business in Europe remained relatively stable in 2010.

The sector was dominated by mainly smaller deals with three exceptions: The purchase by the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg of French utility EDF's share in German utility EnBW, EDF's sale of its British network assets and French energy giant GDF Suez's takeover of International Power from Britain, which at $13.5 billion was the largest announced deal in the world in 2010.

"Many European energy companies have slimmed down their portfolio to use the gained cash to expand in new business fields or growth markets," Wiegand said.

The study focuses on traditional power and gas sources and excludes renewables, another major growth sector in the global energy industry.



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