Spanish stock market regulator CNMV on Thursday said that it has admitted for consideration the application filed by Australia’s IFM Global Infrastructure Fund (IFM GIF) regarding the fund’s offer to buy up to a 22.69% stake in power and gas utility Naturgy Energy Group SA (BME:NTGY).
The admission of the application does not prejudge the outcome of its decision, CNMV added.
As announced in late January, IFM GIF launched an offer to buy up to 220 million shares in the Spanish utility for EUR 5.06 billion (USD 6.11bn) in cash.
Naturgy then said it had not been informed of the offer directly, but learned about it from IFM GIF’s filing on the CNMV website.
The bid is said to have raised eyebrows in Spain given Naturgy’s status as a company of strategic importance, the Spanish media reported.
In March 2020, the Spanish government issued an emergency order aimed at curbing the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. With the order, the government wanted to, among others, prevent non-EU investors from taking a stake of 10% and over in domestic companies in strategic sectors, such as energy, without the cabinet approval.
The government has six months to decide whether or not to give IFM GIF its green light, which the fund is likely to seek this week, business outlet Cinco Dias reported.
The ministry of industry will be in charge of evaluating IFM GIF's request.
The minister of industry, tourism and commerce, Reyes Maroto, will remove herself from the decision-making process to avoid a possible conflict of interest, since her husband is employed as an engineer in Naturgy, Cinco Dias has learned.
Naturgy has presence in Australia as a developer of renewables through a joint venture with Kuwait Investment Authority, Kuwait’s sovereign wealth fund.
(EUR 1.0 = USD 1.208)
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