Petronas set to buy Wirsol Australian renewable energy assets -sources

A logo of a Petronas fuel station is seen against a darkening sky in Kuala Lumpur
A logo of a Petronas fuel station is seen against a darkening sky in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia February 10, 2016. To match Interview PETRONAS-DOWNSTREAM/ REUTERS/Olivia Harris/File Photo

SYDNEY/SINGAPORE, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Malaysia's Petronas (PETR.UL) is finalising its first acquisition of an Australian renewable energy business, set to pick up German firm Wirsol's solar farms and a large development pipeline, two people involved in the transaction said.

One person involved in the talks said the sale price could be between A$900 million and A$1 billion ($705 million).

The potential deal comes as Petronas looks to build a renewables business through its company Gentari, formed last year, which aims to have 30-40 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy capacity, particularly in solar, by 2030.

Gentari and Wirsol spokespeople did not respond to requests for comment.

Wirsol, owned by Wircon GmbH, put its Australian renewables business up for sale last year after scrapping plans to publicly list the business.

It runs solar farms and a battery across seven sites with a capacity of 746 MW, has a development pipeline of about 700 MW and is asset manager for 349 MW in Australia's eastern states, according to the company's web site.

A banker familiar with Wirsol's previous attempt to sell its Australian assets said based on a rough calculation, the operating assets are worth around A$700 million.

The company has had difficulty selling its Australian solar farms previously due to issues with congestion in the grid where its solar farms are located, the banker said.

Data from the Australian Energy Market Operator shows it planned to curtail power from Wirsol's solar farms by between 3% and 11% in the financial year to June 2023 due to the grid congestion.

Petronas is already active in Australia through its stake in the Gladstone liquefied natural gas project (GLNG), run by Santos Ltd (STO.AX).

($1=1.4152 Australian dollars)

Reporting by Scott Murdoch in Sydney, Yantoultra Ngui in Singapore and Sonali Paul in Melbourne; Additional reporting by Mei Mei Chu in Kuala Lumpur; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Lincoln Feast.

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Scott Murdoch has been a journalist for more than two decades working for Thomson Reuters and News Corp in Australia. He has specialised in financial journalism for most of his career and covers equity and debt capital markets across Asia and Australian M&A. He is based in Sydney.