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Taqa plans to spend $1.4bn on new projects

Abu Dhabi, March 17, 2010

Abu Dhabi National Energy Co (Taqa) plans to spend $1.4 billion on five capital projects this year as the state-owned utility shifts its focus from acquisitions to internal growth, its general manager said.

Carl Sheldon also said the company does not expect to tap capital markets this year, relying instead on internally generated funds and a refinancing facility for its projects.

"Our main focus is on organic growth with a $1.4 billion capital expenditure this year for five projects," Sheldon said in a conference call on Wednesday.

Taqa's capital expenditure in 2009 was $646 million, excluding acquisitions. The company has made at least ten acquisitions in the Middle East, Europe and North America over the last three years.

Asked if the company has ruled out acquisitions in the short-term, Sheldon said: "No. We will certainly consider acquisitions around our existing assets," without elaborating further.

The company also said it is in talks with Canadian banks to refinance a C$1.3 billion revolving credit facility of which C$1 billion has already been drawn.

"We are targeting C$700 to C$800 million. We talked to banks on March 4 and the feedback is they are willing to refinance for another three years," said Doug Fraser, chief financial officer.

On March 4, rating agency Moody's downgraded Taqa along with some other Abu Dhabi state-backed companies citing lack of formal government guarantees.

 Fraser underplayed the downgrade saying its impact was negligible to access markets and that Taqa has adequate government support.

The company also said it was unlikely to buy back its bonds. "Our bonds are trading very low, they are not attractive now but if the opportunity arises, it is at the option of the company," said Sheldon.   

Taqa made a gain of 260 million dirhams ($70.79 million) last year from buyback of its 2036 bonds at a nominal value of $323 million. The firm's 2009 profits dived 90 percent to 183 million dirhams against 1.825 billion dirhams the previous year. - Reuters




Tags: Taqa | Abu Dhabi National Energy | Utility |

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