Macquarie-led consortium acquires E.ON's gas distribution network for $4 bn

A consortium led by Macquarie Group has acquired the gas distribution network Open Grid Europe (OGE) from Europe's largest privately-owned provider of energy services E.ON, for €3.2 billion ($4 billion).

The consortium comprising Macquarie's European Infrastructure Fund 4, Infinity Investments, British Columbia Investment Management Corporation and Munich Re's asset management unit MEAG, outbid three other groups led by France's GDF Suez, Germany's Allianz and Belgium's Fluxys.

The sale is part of the Düsseldorf-based power and gas utility giant's new strategy unveiled a year ago after German Chancellor Angela Merkel called to discontinue all the country's nuclear reactors by 2022 due to the Fukushima disaster in Japan.

The first phase of shutdowns hit EON's earnings by €2.5 billion in 2011.

Under the plan, the company would raise cash through a €15 billion- asset-sales programme by exiting the non-competitive markets in Europe and enter rapidly in growing markets like South America, Russia and Asia.

Yesterday's deal brings E.ON's total divestments to more than €12 billion.

OGE has 12,000km network of pipelines that includes local distribution networks and also some long-distance pipelines. Three million customers are connected to these low- medium- and high-pressure gas distribution networks. Its end customers include industrial customers and downstream gas suppliers.