Australia's Macquarie Buys German Gas Pipeline Firm Thyssengas

BERLIN (Reuters) — Australian investment bank Macquarie Asset Management said on Friday it has agreed to buy Germany's second-largest gas pipeline operator, Thyssengas, from DIF and EDF Invest to use the company's grid network to transport climate-friendly gases.

Macquarie, which already owned Thyssengas between 2011 and 2016, did not specify the price, but sources close to the matter said on Friday the sales price was at the upper end or above the 1 billion-1.2 billion euros mentioned by sources in June.

Some reasons for owners DIF and EDF Invest deciding to put Thyssengas up for sale were open questions around the fate of natural gas infrastructure in Germany, with some fossil fuels being phased out under tougher climate legislation.

Whereas the previous owners thought it could become risky to hold on to gas, the new owners view it as advantageous to have gas pipelines with locked-in consumers which stand to gain from investment in and conversion to hydrogen. Macquarie is betting on a lack of industry alternatives and on legislators and industry taking decisive action to develop hydrogen from renewable power sources as an alternative fuel for the future.

"Interested parties in the bidding were attracted by the prospects of hydrogen, so there was healthy demand," said a source close to the process.

Hydrogen is gaining traction to replace gas as policymakers seek to combine recovery from COVID-19 impact with an accelerated shift to green fuel.

If hydrogen is produced using renewable energy, it is emissions-free and can help industrial processes to decarbonize.

"Given limited renewable energy resources and extensive connectivity to the gas grid, climate-friendly gases such as low-carbon hydrogen are an attractive alternative," Macquarie Managing Director Hilko Schomerus said in a statement.

"This is an opportunity to make Thyssengas' grid fit for the future," Schomerus said.

The company transports around 10 billion cubic meters of gas a year in a 4,200-km regulated asset grid in western Germany and neighboring countries.

RBC Capital Markets advised the selling shareholders. 

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