Italy's ERG to buy 636MW of wind assets from GDF Suez

Energy group ERG says it will become Italy’s biggest wind power producer after agreeing to buy a majority stake in GDF Suez subsidiary IP Maestrale.

IP Maestrale has an installed wind base of 636MW, all in Italy with the exception of 86MW of German capacity.

Genoa-based ERG acquired an 80% stake in the business in a deal worth €859m ($1.12bn) including debt. It also has an option to buy the remaining 20% from the French energy giant later.

IP Maestrale’s wind farms are “entirely financed through non-recourse project financing granted by a pool of leading Italian and international banks, due to expire in December 2022,” says ERG.

Its new Italian owner expects the company to post pre-tax profits of around €120m for the full year 2012.

Luca Bettonte, ERG's chief executive, says the deal puts its ERG Renew clean-energy subsidiary “among the top ten” of Europe’s wind producers, as well as number one in its home country.

Bettonte signalled that ERG Renew would seek to grow “above all internationally” following the acquisition.

ERG currently has 571MW of wind capacity in operaiton in Italy, France and Eastern Europe.

IP Maestrale’s Italian wind farms are located in Sicily (161MW), Sardinia (111MW), Campania (95MW), Puglia (91MW), Basilicata (55MW) and Molise (37MW).

The transaction is expected to complete in the first quarter of 2013, subject to approval by Italian regulators and the wind farms’ financiers.

GDF Suez says the deal will help it to reduce its debts.