A few months ago, it became known that there were contacts between a U.S. investment bank and Pampa Energía, Marcelo Mindlin’s company. At that time, they were attributed to a possible sale of control of the distributor Edenor, in the hands of Pampa. The possibility of advancing in this operation was denied by Pampa. But it is true that there were contacts between JP Morgan, the investment bank, and senior Pampa executives.
The approach came from another side. There are two Chinese firms interested in investing in Pampa. They came to the energy group wanting to buy a stake in Transener, the company that controls electricity transmission. A failure in the lines of that company generated the father’s day blackout. The regulator (Enre) analyzes the application of a fine for this situation.
The case is referred to the beginning of 2018. The then Minister of Energy, Juan José Aranguren, expressed his intention to sell the state’s stake in Transener. Ieasa – Enarsa’s heiress – owns half of Citelec, the company that controls Transener. The other half of Citelec is owned by Pampa, which manages the company.
The Chinese Southern Power Grid and State Grid approached Pampa on that occasion. Their interest was in the part that the national state could sell. But since Pampa owned the remaining 50%, a bond was also initiated in that part.
The sale of the state part of Transener was stopped for various reasons. Radicalism opposed the operation, while Aranguren was disconnected from the Ministry of Energy. Moreover, after the devaluation of the peso against the dollar, investor appetite for the country declined.
But Mindlin took the opportunity to maintain contact with the Chinese. In addition, he added Power China to his list of companies to do business with. This firm, along with Sacde (also Mindlin and its partners), has already submitted a bid for an electrical work in Yacyretá, while more opportunities in this sector are being evaluated.
Faced with so much Chinese interest in the local energy sector, Mindlin asked investment banks to help him organize his relationship with companies in that country. They will make presentations in that country, according to Clarín.
Also on Transener’s annotated list is the Perez Companc group. By these coincidences, Pampa Energía’s offices are in the same building once occupied by this national family, before selling the bulk of its assets to Petrobras.
Transener has an annual turnover of more than $10 billion and has attractive profits, they believe in the market. That makes it interesting for potential investors. But the sale (or not) of the state participation will remain for 2020/21. If the current administration continues, better market conditions will be expected. If Kirchnerism wins, there will be investor caution in the energy sector. In addition, the name Transener came to the fore because of its responsibility in the blackout, so it could generate intervention in political discussions.
Meanwhile, in Pampa they are focused on a wind farm in Bahía Blanca and Vaca Muerta. Their next announcements will come from that side.