September 18, 2019 / 3:37 PM / a month ago

PNE AG to open data room for potential suitors: sources

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Wind energy project developer PNE AG has attracted interest from private equity and infrastructure investors following a recent takeover approach by a Morgan Stanley fund, two people familiar with the matter said.

PNE AG will give potential suitors access to its data room, the people said. The group, which has a market value of 265 million euros ($293 million), is working with consultancy PwC to handle the process, the sources said.

Last month, PNE said that Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Partners (MSIP) could bid 3.50-3.80 euros per share for the group, valuing it at up to 291 million.

Apart from MSIP, PNE has caught the eye of Australian infrastructure investor Macquarie and Swedish private equity firm EQT, the people said.

During the data room phase potential bidders have access to company records.

PNE, PwC and EQT all declined to comment. Macquarie was not immediately available for comment.

Shares in PNE, which went public more than two decades ago, currently trade at 3.53 euros apiece, up 45% year-to-date but a far cry from their 39.579 euro all-time high, reached in March 2001.

PNE’s top 10 shareholder ENKRAFT has called the offer range proposed by MSIP “completely inadequate”, saying it did not reflect PNE’s current portfolio and project pipeline, according to a letter seen by Reuters last month.

Baader Helvea this week started coverage of PNE with a “buy” rating and a target price of 3.90 euros per share.

“We believe that PNE as a full-service project development provider with a local and international leading position, a promising project pipeline and a strong quality brand will withstand the turbulence in the renewables market,” the brokerage said.

It said MSIP’s recent move could trigger interest from other suitors and possibly result in a higher offer.

PNE has an onshore wind project pipeline of nearly 5 gigawatt, most of it in Germany, Turkey and France which together account for 58%. It trades at just 3 times core earnings, a significant discount to larger peer Encavis’ 11.2 times.

Editing by Elaine Hardcastle

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