Austria’s Verbund acquires 13 hydro plants from Germany’s E.ON

Austrian utility Verbund has agreed to acquire 13 hydroelectric projects on the Inn River, totaling 312 MW, from German utility E.ON.

E.ON offered the Bavarian plants for sale under a mandate from the European Union to divest a total of 5,000 MW of its German power plants in an attempt to increase competition in power generation. Verbund, which operates 6,600 MW of hydropower in Austria, submitted the overall most attractive bid, E.ON said June 8, 2009.

The parties agreed not to disclose the purchase price. However, as part of the deal, E.ON said it received rights to buy electricity over 20 years from Verbund subsidiary Zemm-Ziller pumped-storage projects in Austria’s Ziller River Valley. Although Verbund will retain ownership of the Zemm-Ziller plants, representing 318 MW, E.ON said it could use its procurement rights to suit its needs.

The Inn River projects’ acquisition is subject to approval of E.ON supervisory boards and antitrust authorities. Verbund’s board already approved the deal.

Verbund said it plans to establish a German subsidiary to operate the plants and that it intends to offer up to a 30 percent stake in the venture to Bavarian municipalities. It said the plants’ annual generation totals 1,850 gigawatt-hours, corresponding to about 9 percent of Verbund’s total run-of-river production.

Verbund to increase stake in French generator

Verbund also announced June 2 it is acquiring a 13.3 percent stake in French electricity generator and natural gas supplier POWEO SA. Once it acquires the stake owned by Charles Beigbeder and his holding company, Gravitation, Verbund will hold the largest single stake in POWEO at 43.2 percent.

Verbund said it is to pay 29 euros (US$40.72) per share for the stake in a deal that is still conditional. In addition, it said POWEO envisages launching a share capital increase for a maximum of 75 million euros (US$105 million) to continue growth and accelerate renewables and combined-cycle combustion turbine generation projects.

POWEO has 500 MW of installed capacity including a 412-MW combined-cycle plant and 71 MW of wind and hydropower.

Verbund said POWEO provides it a platform for additional expansion into hydropower in France.

“Combining Verbund’s expertise together with POWEO position as a leading alternative operator on the French market, this partnership is well-positioned to participate in the over 5,000 MW hydro concession renewals expected to take place by 2012 in France,” Verbund said.

Verbund broke ground in May for construction of the 48-MW Ashta hydropower plant on Albania’s Drin River. (HydroWorld 6/5/09)

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