x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Adia buys stake in Norway gas

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority is part of a consortium paying US$3.25 billion for a stake in Gassled, a venture that owns almost all of Norway's natural gas pipeline.

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the world's biggest sovereign wealth funds, is part of a consortium paying US$3.25 billion (Dh11.93bn) for a stake in Gassled, a venture that owns almost all of Norway's natural gas pipelines.

Solveig Gas Norway, a holding company 25 per cent owned by the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (Adia), has agreed to buy 24.1 per cent of the Gassled joint venture from Statoil, Norway's largest oil company. The other shareholders in Solveig Gas are the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Allianz Capital Partners, based in Munich, which own 45 per cent and 30 per cent, respectively.

The deal is one of the largest of late for Adia in energy infrastructure, and comes as sovereign funds shift away from investments in financial services companies and increasingly towards infrastructure and commodities. According to an annual review from last year, between 1 and 5 per cent of Adia's portfolio is targeted for investments in infrastructure.

Estimates vary, but analysts believe Adia's assets are worth about $350bn.

For Statoil, selling the stake was part of an attempt to "streamline" the state-owned oil company's portfolio, said Eldar Saetre, its executive vice president for marketing, processing and renewables.

"The divestment is part of our continuous efforts to increase capital efficiency and maximise shareholder value creation," he said.

Gassled was established in 2003 as a merger of a number of joint ventures that owned and operated Norway's pipelines and gas transport systems.

Despite selling almost a quarter of Gassled, Statoil said it would continue to be the largest shipper in the gas transport network on Norway's continental shelf.

Much of Norway's gas goes to consumers in the UK and the rest of Europe.

Statoil's sale of its Gassled stake comes a week after Total, the French oil giant, said it planned to sell its 6.4 per cent holding in the venture. ExxonMobil, the world's largest oil company, sold about 9 per cent of Gassled last year.

The transfer of Statoil's ownership is to take financial effect retroactively from the beginning of this year. It is still subject to approval from Norway's petroleum and finance ministries.

afitch@thenational.ae