GE to buy two Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) plants in Spain to ACS despite regulatory framework

ACS is taking steps to reduce its massive debt. The company chaired by Florentino Perez has reached an agreement with General Electric to acquire two U.S. giant solar thermal Castilla-La Mancha in which the builder has invested 500 million.

However, the purchase price had to be adjusted downward after the last spear of the Minister of Industry to the electricity sector.

Financial sources have confirmed that ACS and General Electric have spent months negotiating the transfer of the two solar CSP Manchasol I and II, the company owned by the March family, the Albertos and Florentino Perez’s own built in Alcazar de San Juan and City Real.

Both assets already in operation, totaling about 100 megawatts of power, a capacity which is now paid less after the recent Royal Decree of José Manuel Soria.

The Minister of Energy announced on Friday the fourth electricity reform that, unlike the previous ones, also punishes solar thermal, owned by Abengoa, Acciona and ACS, primarily.

The cut to pay for this type of energy is not easy to quantify because they are now the companies themselves who have to decide if they make the regulated tariff or premium to market.

But what is accepted is that the assets will be worth less because, well, no fee will be updated according to the CPI, but with inflation. Therefore, with reference to the data of 2012, lost 3% annually.

The relationship between ACS and General Electric is long. The construction and the group agreed to sell another CSP by 111.1 million in October 2011, a transaction that did not close by the uncertainty on the energy sector. The resulting changes in the rules adopted by Soria forced to leave the transaction in the air, waiting for the last and final modification.

Now, according to sources close to the process, ACS and General Electric are about to conclude the talks to comb the final price, a very important step for the Spanish group, which until recently feared that the American multinational withdraw their offers, both Extremadura plant as two in Castilla-La Mancha.

Manchasol complex is the third largest in Europe and fourth in the world. The second plant built in Ciudad Real was the eighth of those developed by ACS in the boom of renewable energy in the stage where Industry Minister Miguel Sebastian subsidized the implementation of all types of clean energy.

However, because of its huge debt, the holding company run by Florentino Perez was forced to divest assets valued renewable at 5,000 million euros. Putting on sale announced in late 2010, but today has barely communicate preliminary agreements for 2,000 million. Of this amount, only has managed to close the half.

The most important operation was agreed with Bridgepoint by 636 million euros, which also had to be revised down to just over 550 in June 2012. The others are for sale to RREEF Pan European Infrastructure Fund ANTIN and the Andasol solar thermal and placement of five wind farms to Natural Gas for 950 million euros.

Also, ACS conveyed Canepa nine parks in Galicia, Castilla-La Mancha, Catalonia and La Rioja by 223.4 million, also pending execution operation.

Nevertheless, ACS pulled those 2,000 million of gross debt, a decision that now have to be reviewed by Deloitte, its auditor.