Billionaire Li Ka-shing to acquire UK gas-distributor WWU for $1 bn

A consortium led by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing's companies yesterday agreed to buy UK gas-distribution company Wales & West Utilities Ltd (WWU), for £645 million ($1 billion).

Li Ka-shing's flagship Cheung Kong Holdings Ltd (CKI), its infrastructure unit Cheung Kong Power Assets Holdings Ltd (PAH) and the billionaire's charity foundation LKSFL, are buying WWU from Australia's Macquarie Group and other investors.

The consortium intends to fund the acquisition through internal cash reserves.

Newport, the K-based WWU, former part of National Grid Transco, was founded in 2005 and has around 35,000km of gas distribution pipelines covering Wales and south west of England.

WWU serves an area representing one-sixth of the UK with a population of 7.4 million.

Li Ka-shing is already present in the UK utility sector through PAH, which owns Leeds-based Northern Gas Network that has 37,000kms of gas transmission pipelines, while CKI had acquired Northumbrian Water and the UK electricity networks of French energy firm EDF in 2011 for £4.7 billion.
H L Kam, group managing director of CKI, said, ''We are delighted to acquire another high quality asset and a company which is a clear leader in its respective sector''.