Goldman Sachs, funds invest in DONG Energy, seek IPO

Reuters

* Goldman Sachs takes 19 pct stake

* Pension funds ATP, PFA take 5 and 2 pct respectively

* Parties say they will seek IPO when conditions are right

* $2 billion of new funds for DONG's offshore wind ambitions

By Mette Fraende and Geert De Clercq

COPENHAGEN, Oct 2 (Reuters) - Goldman Sachs and twoDanish pension funds are to buy a combined 26 percent stake inDanish state-owned oil and gas group DONG Energy for 11 billionDanish crowns ($2.00 billion) and plan an IPO for the firm, thecompanies said.

The investment via a capital increase will allow DONG to strengthen its balance sheet and pursue anambition to become a leading player in offshore wind energy.

Already European market leader with 2 gigawatts of offshorewind power installed in Denmark, Britain and Germany, DONG wantsto more than triple that to 6.5 gigawatt by 2020, its CEO toldReuters in August.

"Once the agreement is finalised, the company can also inthe future invest significantly in offshore wind turbines andexploration and production of oil and gas," Danish FinanceMinister Bjarne Corydon said in a statement.

Goldman Sachs Merchant Banking Division official AndrewWolff said the bank believed in DONG's strategy and would helpit "provide environmentally friendly energy and infrastructurefor European markets".

Goldman Sachs will subscribe to new shares worth 8billion crowns, giving it a stake of about 19 percent. Danishpension fund Arbejdsmarkedets Tillægspension (ATP) willsubscribe 2.2 billion crowns for a 5 percent stake and PensionForsikringsaktieselskab (PFA) 0.8 billion crowns for a 2 percentstake.

The deal would see the state's ownership reduced from around81 percent to about 60 percent, and was based on a valuation of31.5 billion crowns ($5.74 billion) before the capital increase.

SELL-BACK CLAUSE

DONG and its new investors said in a statement they wouldseek an initial public offering when conditions are right.

But they added that if an IPO has not been completedfollowing the release of financial statements for the 2017financial year, the new investors would have the option to selltheir shares back to the Danish State on pre-agreed terms. Itgave no further detail on the sell-back clause.

An IPO would further break open the near-total publiccontrol over the utility sector in Scandinavia, where Finland'sFortum - which is 50.76 percent state-owned - is the only majorlisted public utility.

Sweden's finance minister said last week that a listing ofSwedish utility Vattenfall was not currently on theagenda, although bankers have told Reuters the firm is startingto prepare the ground for a sale or a stock market flotation ofits ailing European business.

NEGATIVE RATINGS OUTLOOK

DONG Chief Executive Henrik Poulsen, who took the reins inAugust 2012, is refocusing the firm's investments andstrengthening its balance sheet.

He has said that 50 percent of DONG's future investmentswill go towards offshore wind and 40 percent to DONG'straditional business of oil and gas exploration and productionin the seas around Denmark.

At the announcement of 2012 results in February, Poulsensaid DONG planned to divest 10 billion Danish crowns ($1.80billion) of non-core assets in 2013-14, cut costs by 1.2 billionand raise 6 to 8 billion crowns of new equity.

In the past year, DONG has sold more than 8 billion crownsworth of assets - including Danish, Polish, and Norwegianonshore wind projects - and announced nearly 1,000 job cuts.

Its 36 billion crown debt is rated BBB+, three notches abovejunk, and is on negative outlook with Standard and Poor's andFitch.

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