Abu Dhabi's TAQA confirms talks with Criteria over potential Naturgy deal

Spanish financial regulator lifts suspension on trading

Naturgy's president Francisco Reynés
Naturgy's president Francisco Reynés / Naturgy
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

April 17, 2024 10:46 AM

April 17, 2024 07:58 PM

The Abu Dhabi National Energy Company, TAQA, confirmed on Wednesday morning that it is in talks with Criteria Caixa over a "possible cooperation pact in relation to Naturgy." 

TAQA also admitted it was in talks with CVC and GIP over the acquisition of their shares in Naturgy, one of Spain's leading energy companies. 

"If the acquisition were to take place, a takeover bid would have to be made for all of Naturgy's capital," TAQA said. 

It emphasized that, for now, "no agreement has been reached" with Criteria Caixa, CVC or GIP and that "there is no guarantee" or "certainty" that a deal will be reached. 

Criteria is the main shareholder in Naturgy, owning a 26.7% stake. CVC and GIP each own around 20%. 

Strategic company

The Spanish government studies the TAQA and Criteria Caixa approach and considers Naturgy a "strategic company" for the country. 

"The cabinet is always in favor of having clear and transparent investors behind Spanish companies, and if possible from Spain, but keeping in mind the competence laws in place in all EU member states," María Jesús Montero, Spain's vice president, said.


Meanwhile, the economy minister, Carlos Cuerpo, announced that they would study the operation, and if it goes underway, the executive could buy shares of Naturgy, as they just did with Telefónica, where the cabinet is buying stocks to be the major investor.

Montero has highlighted that, since the beginning, they have "been trying to ensure that there are no foreign investments in strategic companies that can affect the national security," she said from Sevilla to media outlets.

"It is the case of Naturgy, as it is an energy company with essential strategic tasks, and our work is to see if there are any other investors who can acquire part of the company," she added.

Trading suspended

Earlier, Spain's financial regulator CNMV temporarily suspended trading in Spanish gas and electricity company Naturgy pending "relevant information," the CNMV said.   

That decision came a day after Criteria Caixa, the holding company of La Caixa, the largest bank in Catalonia, confirmed "preliminary talks" with an "investment group" for its entry into Naturgy.   

Following this statement, Naturgy's share price jumped over 7%. On Wednesday, when Naturgy was suspended from trading, its shares were quoted at €21.80.

The CNMV lifted the trading suspension at 11.30am.