RWE rules out big Poland acquisition without a partner
WARSAW (Reuters) - German utility RWE said it would not make a bid for Polish state power company Energa unless it finds a partner to share the cost.
RWE, Germany's second-biggest utility group, is focusing for now on divestments to lower its debt, said Filip Thon, the chief executive of its Polish business RWE Polska.
RWE's main asset in Poland is energy distribution company RWE Stoen Operator. In the past it showed an interest in buying another state-controlled utility, Enea, in a privatization, but plans for the sell-off came to nothing.
Poland plans this year to float a minority stake in Energa, the smallest of its four major power companies, and will look for a large or strategic investor in the company.
Thon told Reuters that RWE did not have the money for large scale investments or acquisitions.
"We have to divest in different markets, apart from Poland, to get the leverage factor under control," he said. "If we wanted to invest into larger assets, we would have to do it with a partner in an intelligent way. We have to concentrate on asset-light projects with attractive returns and short pay-back periods."
RWE invested almost 5 billion zlotys in Poland in the decade to 2012. Its focus there is on renewable energy, with Poland trying to increase the share of renewables in its energy mix to at least 15 percent by 2020 to meet European Union regulations.
RWE's plan is to spend 500 million euros to build Polish wind farms with installed capacity of 300 megawatts by 2015. It expects to have installed 200 MW of that by the end of 2013.
In recent months, a number of coal-fuel power plant projects in Poland have been frozen or scrapped because of falling energy prices, which make the ventures untenable.
"Energy wholesale prices in Poland are among the lowest in the central and eastern European countries. As long as there is no clear legislation concerning CO2 (carbon dioxide emissions) and renewables I do not see a reason for a significant price change," Thon added.
(Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko and Pawel Bernat; Editing by Tom Pfeiffer)