SINGAPORE Feb 24 France's Engie SA,
looking to sell a coal-fired power station in Australia that
could fetch $1 billion, expects to attract more interest from
international firms than local players, its Asia Pacific head
Engie flagged the sale of the 953 megawatt Loy Yang B
coal-fired plant and its small Kwinana gas-fired power plant
last November, when it announced it would close its Hazelwood
power plant, Australia's dirtiest coal-fired power station.
"It will be an international tender. There could be
Australian (interest) but I would expect more interest from
international players than local," Engie's Asia Pacific
president, Jan Flachet, told Reuters in an interview late on
Australia's top utilities, Origin Energy, AGL
Energy and EnergyAustralia, owned by Hong Kong's CLP
Holdings, have all flagged they want to expand in
renewable energy rather than coal-fired power.
Loy Yang B and Kwinana have been put up for sale as the
company is looking to "de-carbonise" and focus on renewable
energy. The plants are both co-owned with Japanese trading house
Mitsui & Co Ltd, which is also selling its stakes.
Indicative bids are due in early May, with binding bids due
in mid-August, an Engie spokesman said. Rothschild is advising
on the sale process.
Loy Yang B, Victoria's newest and most efficient coal-fired
generator, could fetch as much as A$1.5 billion ($1.2 billion),
while Kwinana, a 122 MW plant, could sell for around A$150
million, an analyst estimated.
"Loy Yang B we will not close. That's a very, very efficient
coal plant," Flachet said, adding that the aim was to complete a
sale by next year or continue running the plant.
"If the buyers are interested we will sell both. If they are
not interested, we may not sell Kwinana," he said.
Loy Yang B will be essential to ensuring reliable power
supplies in Australia's national electricity market following
the closure of Engie's Hazelwood plant next month, which
supplies up to 5 percent of the market's electricity.
Power reliability has become a hot issue in Australia
following a string of blackouts, sparking talk of changes in
energy policy and electricity market pricing to ensure there is
enough back-up for variable wind and solar power.
($1 = 1.2965 Australian dollars)
(Writing by Sonali Paul; Editing by Richard Pullin)