Middle East

TAQA in talks to buy power plants in Abu Dhabi, plans green bonds, says CFO

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DUBAI, May 5 (Reuters) - Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (TAQA) is in talks to buy power plants in the United Arab Emirates and could issue debut green bonds in 2022 as it seeks to expand renewables generation, the finance chief said.

Abu Dhabi-listed TAQA (TAQA.AD) is looking at ways to expand after a state-driven transaction last year boosted its balance sheet and increased total assets to more than $50 billion.

Chief Financial Officer Steve Ridlington told Reuters the company was in early talks to buy power plants in Abu Dhabi, the largest and wealthiest of seven emirates making up the UAE.

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State oil firm ADNOC and Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA) both had power plants, he said, adding: "We’ll be looking at those and we're talking about whether and how we can bring those into the system."

TAQA, which has assets overseas, was also looking at possible acquisitions abroad, Ridlington said, adding it was particularly interested in M&A targets in renewables.

Abu Dhabi Power Corporation, controlled by state-run ADQ, now owns 98.6% of TAQA after transferring most of its power and water generation and distribution assets to the firm in exchange for new shares.

Ridlington said further public offerings of shares in TAQA were on the cards but the issue was in the hands of ADQ.

"It is something that everybody recognises has to happen, because a 1.4% float is not really sustainable," he said, although he said he was not aware of specific moves or timing.

TAQA issued $1.5 billion in bonds last month to refinance part of its debt more cheaply. Ridlington said the firm expected to see its leverage reduce over time as project debt amortised.

TAQA posted a first-quarter net profit 1.4 billion dirhams on Wednesday, lifted by recovering energy prices, after a loss a year earlier.

The company plans to expand its renewable energy generation and could issue green bonds, which are designed to support climate-related or environmental projects, as early as 2022, Ridlington said.

"We're going to publish a sustainability report later this year, we're going to set emission targets and we will certainly look at green bonds going forward," he said.

($1 = 3.6728 UAE dirham)

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Reporting by Davide Barbuscia; Editing by Edmund Blair

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