By Andy Sambidge
GDF SUEZ sells 10% of 45% interest in Sohar Power Company to MENA Infrastructure Fund
French gas and power utility GDF SUEZ has sold part of its stake in Oman-based Sohar Power Company.
The company has announced completion of the sale of 10 percent of its 45 percent stake in the power firm to an investment holding company of MENA Infrastructure Fund.
Sohar Power Company is the owner of Sohar 1, a 585 MW power generation and 150,000 cubic metre/day seawater desalination plant in the Sohar Industrial Port area of the Sultanate of Oman.
After the transaction, GDF SUEZ will continue to remain the largest shareholder with 35 percent of the shares held by its fully owned subsidiary Kahrabel, it said in a statement.
MENA Infrastructure has also acquired an additional 10 percent stake, through the purchase of five percent shares held by WJ Towell & Co and Zubair Corporation. The deals brings its total share to 20 percent.
MENA infrastructure is also a shareholder in Oman's United Power Company that owns the Al Manah plant, GDF SUEZ's independent power project in Oman.
GDF SUEZ retains interests in five other power assets including Barka 2, a power and water production plant, and four power production plants - Al Rusail, Al Kamil, Barka 3 and Sohar 2.
The last two achieved full commercial operation beginning of April, adding another 1,500 MW of power to the sultanate's end-2012 capacity of circa 4,500 MW.
Shankar Krishnamoorthy, president and CEO of GDF SUEZ South Asia, Middle East & Africa said: "We welcome our new partner, MENA Infrastructure, in Sohar Power Company.
"Next year, we will launch the IPOs of Al Suwadi and Al Batinah Power to dilute our share in Barka 3 and Sohar 2. We want GDF SUEZ to remain a partner of choice to help the Government of Oman develop its long-term strategy with regards to energy security."
In April, GDF Suez said it expects strong demand for power in the Middle East will allow it to sell thousands of megawatts worth of new gas-fired power stations in the region.
Dirk Beeuwsaert, head of GDF Suez's international energy business, told French daily Les Echos he expects the Middle East will need about 6,000 megawatts (MW) of new capacity per year for the next five to 10 years, due to the region's fast growth and the massive use of air-conditioning.