Australian investment fund IFM has filed the highest bid for EDF’s Polish heat and power assets, local media reported on August 4. However, Poland is said to be working to convince the French utility to delay any sale until state-controlled companies are able to step into the process.
IFM's interest in the assets is reportedly keen to add to the portfolio of Veolia Energia Polska. The Australian fund bought 40% in the local unit of the French group - which current controls 10% of the heat market in Poland - in 2006. However, Puls Biznesu claims the Polish government wants EDF to wait until next year, when "one of the state-controlled energy groups regains the financial capacity to buy [the EDF assets].”
Polish utilities have been pushed this year to put around PLN1.5bn (€350mn) into saving Poland’s largest miner Kompania Weglowa and may still chip in more capital to save its peer KHW. While the value of IFM’s bid is unknown, the portfolio’s price has been estimated at about €1bn.
Meanwhile, the line to buy EDF assets consists of few more suitors. Finnish utility Fortum and Czech peer CEZ have expressed interest, as well as Polish investment fund Eneris. In May, it was reported Czech-based energy holding EPH is also in the game, although only for the elderly Rybnik power plant.
EDF is looking to offload its coal-fired heat and power assets in line with a strategy to switch to less emission-intensive installations. Poland, on the other hand, has said repeatedly coal will remain its staple fuel. In connection with the coal rescue and Warsaw’s drive to increase state control over the energy sector, EDF’s portfolio would clearly be a tempting target for state-controlled power firms.
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