IES Seeks $1Bln for Its Noncore Assets

MTSlobodin, second right, cutting the ribbon at the opening of a new turbine at a power station in Perm on Tuesday.
PERM — Viktor Vekselberg's Integrated Energy Systems will seek to raise $1 billion from the sale of noncore electricity assets in the next six months to a year, general director Mikhail Slobodin said.

"We already have several serious offers for our noncore assets," Slobodin told reporters as he opened a new turbine at a power station in the Perm region on Tuesday.

"The speed of the sales will depend on the situation in the market," he said.

IES, also known by its Russian acronym KES, is the biggest private player on the country's electricity sector, and is now the country's biggest electricity generator after Gazprom.

IES's noncore assets include distribution grids, construction and consulting units, while the core assets include generating, as well as electricity, heat and gas marketing units.

IES also holds 75 percent in Russian Communal System, the country's biggest private housing utility, which it considers a core asset.

IES's grid assets in the Urals, Volga, Central and Northwest federal districts, as well as in St. Petersburg-based Lenenergo, where IES holds a 25 percent stake, are worth some $650 million, said Matvei Taits, a utilities analyst at UralSib.

"Now that the grid sector is formed, it will be interesting for foreign investment funds," Taits said.

Irina Filatova, a utilities analyst at Broker Credit Service, put the grid assets' value at $1.2 billion.

Electricity infrastructure firm EnergoStroiEngineering, which has offices in Germany, Morocco and Uzbekistan, will be sold off too, and may go for more than $100 million, Slobodin said Tuesday.

Filatova said the firm was worth about $60 million. Power engineering firms such as E4 and state-run Tekhpromexport might be interested in it, Filatova said.

Power sector investor Halcyon Advisers said Wednesday "it was currently not holding any negotiations with IES."

Prosperity Capital Management, another portfolio investor in the sector, declined to comment Wednesday.

E4 did not respond to a request for comment, while no one at Tekhpromexport was available to answer questions.

IES bought its generation assets in TGK-5, TGK-6, TGK-7 and TGK-9 from Unified Energy System, which was wound up July 1 after a three-year privatization program.

The investment obligations that companies took over from UES were too tough, Slobodin said.

"The economy needs new capacity and we are obliged to build it, which is not a way to earn money, and this is a systematic problem," Slobodin said.

"The level of profit today is absolutely incomparable to the money we paid for the TGKs," Slobodin said.

Giving an example, he said that if he paid $600 per kilowatt, buying a generating company, he gets a profit of $5 per kilowatt.

Another problem is that 60 percent of the country's consumers have no meters for heat consumption, Slobodin said, adding that IES was talking to the government about the issue.

The main problem, though, was outdated equipment, Slobodin said.

"Russia needed the [equivalent of a] Superjet in Russian electricity machine-building," referring to Sukhoi's new midsized jet, the first new aircraft produced in the country since the Soviet collapse.

High-capacity turbines for the country's power stations are currently bought abroad.

"We do need the new turbines, as the last of the current equipment is a few decades old and needs replacing," Slobodin said.