State-controlled electricity company Mercury NZ is to pay $143 million for a cornerstone stake in a trans-Tasman renewable electricity generation company.
Mercury has agreed to buy a 19.99 per cent stake in Tilt Renewables from the Tauranga Energy Consumer Trust, leaving the trust with just under 7 per cent.
The purchase price equates to $2.30 per share in cash, well above Tilt’s Friday closing share price of $1.85. Shares in Tilt jumped nearly 11 per cent to $2.05 by late Monday morning.
Tilt, which is 51 per cent owned by investment firm Infratil, is listed on both the NZX and the ASX. It was carved out of Trustpower in 2016 and specialises in wind and solar energy.
Mercury said the purchase was a chance to enter Australia’s growing renewable energy market.
The purchase was “aligned with our signalled strategy for economic growth, and follows the exploration of other opportunities related to the electricity sector in Australia,” chief executive Fraser Whineray said.
He said Tilt was an established business with a quality development pipeline, good governance, and a strong management team.
“Tilt has established a robust portfolio of operating wind farms in both Australia and New Zealand, as well as consented renewable generation projects which it can bring to market when conditions are right.”
Tilt is currently building a 54 megawatt hour wind farm at Salt Creek in Australia. It also owns the Tararua 1, 2 & 3 and Mahinerangi wind farms in New Zealand and Snowtown 1 & 2 in Australia.
Last week it posted a $2.8m net loss for the year to March 31 compared with a net profit of $16.4m in 2017. Tilt said the result had been impacted by low wind during the winter, particularly in New Zealand, and higher depreciation in the previous year.
Tilt has a development pipeline in Australia of close to 3,000MW of wind, solar, and storage projects as well as 530MW of wind projects in New Zealand.