January 7, 2015 / 8:30 AM / 4 years ago

EnBW sells offshore windpark stake to Macquarie for 720 million euros

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - EnBW (EBKG.DE) sold a stake in its Baltic 2 offshore wind park to Australian investment group Macquarie (MQG.AX) for 720 million euros ($856 million), joining an industry trend of building and selling wind farms to boost earnings.

The sale of the 49.89 percent stake, still subject to antitrust approval, is expected to be completed next summer, EnBW, Germany’s third-largest utility, said in a statement on Wednesday.

German utilities have started to build and sell large offshore wind parks as a way to supplement earnings and add renewable capacity as their old business model of selling power from conventional sources crumbles.

EnBW will remain in charge of the Baltic 2 park’s operation and maintenance after the 288-megawatt facility is fully commissioned later this year.

Unlike onshore wind farms, where operating risks have been quantified after decades of use, offshore wind is a relatively new sector and there is a lack of evidence to judge the long-term impact from storms.

Standing as tall as 200 meters, offshore wind turbines are built to withstand stronger winds at sea, making them bigger, more robust and more efficient than their onshore rivals.

The transaction also bolsters Macquarie’s position as a specialist in European energy infrastructure, attracted by the guaranteed returns power assets offer in times of low interest rates.

While primarily buying gas grids, the company has also snapped up power plants, notably in Britain, and has said it is looking to expand its portfolio of power assets in Europe.

Reporting by Christoph Steitz; editing by Thomas Atkins and Louise Heavens

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