A Macquarie-led team has taken majority control of the Czech Republic’s largest gas distribution business, GasNet, from RWE. A credit rating looms before a potential bond refinancing of at least EUR 1bn of euro and local currency debt, Nicholas Krause and Brendan Malkin report
Macquarie is no stranger to gas infrastructure in new European markets.
It currently owns stakes in six gas transmission and distribution companies on the continent, three of which are based in Central and Eastern Europe, according to its website.
So why has it been so focused on gaining full control of one such investment in the Czech Republic?
GasNet is the owner of a 65,000km gas distribution network, the largest in the Czech Republic, and holds an 85% market share with 2.3 million commercial and residential customers in every region of the country, apart from the city of Prague and the region of South Bohemia.
Macquarie already owned a 49.96% stake in Czech Grid Holding, the parent company of GasNet. In 2013, it bought a 35% stake in the company, then known as RWE Grid Holding. The company had been established in 2013 with the merger of three regional gas networks owned by utilities SPP, EON and GdF, as well as with RWE’s existing Czech gas distribution network.
Macquarie then acquired a further 15% stake in the business from RWE in 2015.