Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 February 2020

Acwa Power IPO to take place 'sooner rather than later' says chief executive

Company expects to add projects worth almost $10bn by end of this year

Acwa Power will move ahead with its initial public offering 'sooner rather than later' says chief executive Paddy Padmanathan. Leslie Pableo for The National
Acwa Power will move ahead with its initial public offering 'sooner rather than later' says chief executive Paddy Padmanathan. Leslie Pableo for The National

An initial public offering of Saudi Arabia’s Acwa Power could take place “sooner rather than later”, according to its chief executive.

The company has been broadening its shareholder base at the same time as the kingdom’s Public Infrastructure Fund has been negotiating an increase in its stake to 45 per cent, from the 25 per cent it holds currently, Paddy Padmanathan said in an interview on the sidelines of the Milken Institute Middle East and Africa summit in Abu Dhabi.

Once this is finalised, “I think we are well-positioned - from a shareholder platform, from operating assets, from where we are in terms of corporate development to be then in a position to go forward”, Mr Padmanathan said.

“Having got to that position, yeah, we want to get on with it sooner rather than later,” he added.

Acwa Power currently has an asset base worth about $45 billion through investments in conventional and renewable projects in 12 countries, according to Mr Padmanathan. These include stakes in the fourth phase of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Solar Park and the Hassyan Clean Coal Power plant in Dubai, the new Taweelah desalination plant in Abu Dhabi and the Sakaka solar power plant in Saudi Arabia - the kingdom’s first.

Mr Padmanathan said although the opportunity in its home market is ‘huge’, it is continuing to push ahead with overseas expansion to ensure no more than 50 per cent of its assets are in a single territory. It expects to enter five more markets this year, including Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Uzbekistan.

“Our expectation is that by 2030 to be in as much as 40 countries,” he said.

The company also has ambitious targets in terms of expanding the number of projects in its portfolio over the next 12 months.

“My expectation is to end 2020 having made commitments and signed up to contracts and so on for another $10bn, so $55bn. By 2030, we think there is a market for us to be at about $200bn - quadrupling ourselves,” Mr Padmanathan said.

“We are not opportunity constrained, we’re not capital constrained. The issue is around capability - making sure we bring enough people who are passionate, committed, capable into the business fast enough.”

Updated: February 12, 2020 08:42 AM

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