HSBC, Credit Suisse to advise on Kuwait’s KFH, Bahrain’s AUB merger talks

The deal provides a non-binding framework to explore the creation of “a major regional banking institution. (REUTERS)
Updated 23 July 2018
0

HSBC, Credit Suisse to advise on Kuwait’s KFH, Bahrain’s AUB merger talks

  • KFH declined as much as 1.3 percent for a market value of about $12.8 billion

LONDON: HSBC and Credit Suisse have been selected to advise on a possible merger between Ahli United Bank (AUB) and Kuwait Finance House (KFH), AUB said on Sunday.
A merger between Bahrain’s largest bank and Kuwait’s biggest Islamic lender would be the first cross-border tie-up between Gulf banks in recent years at a time when several other banks are consolidating.
HSBC and Credit Suisse were selected to complete studies to assist AUB and KFH in arriving at a fair share exchange ratio, the statement said, without specifying which investment bank was advising which lender.
If agreement on the share exchange ratio is reached, the next step would be the initiation of due diligence and other steps.
KFH said last week it had invited AUB to begin a due diligence process for a potential merger.
The deal provides a non-binding framework to explore the creation of “a major regional banking institution capable of competing more effectively in its existing and new potential markets,” AUB Chairman Hamad Al-Humaidhi said.
Separately, AUB also said its net profit for the second-quarter was $182.7 million, up 20.3 percent from a year earlier.
Shares in AUB rose 6.8 percent earlier this month to the highest levels since April 2017, and led to the Manama, Bahrain-based lender being valued at $5.66 billion.
KFH declined as much as 1.3 percent for a market value of about $12.8 billion.
Bahrain, which is a key Saudi Arabian ally and home to the US’ Fifth Fleet, hired investment bank Lazard to advise on how to boost its public finances, according to sources with knowledge of the matter.


India’s small renewables firms fighting consolidation wave

Updated 30 min 20 sec ago
0

India’s small renewables firms fighting consolidation wave

  • With many smaller operators being gobbled up or offering themselves for sale, the number of projects being developed could fall
  • Besides loans, other funding options have been dead ends for the smaller companies, further limiting growth opportunities

MUMBAI: Small to mid-sized renewable energy companies in India are starting to look like attractive takeover targets as lenders and investors withhold funds, worried by the stiff competition, weak bond markets, low tariffs and high debt besetting the sector.
The small companies’ difficulty in raising cash is keeping them away from government power project auctions, restricting their growth and crippling their ability to refinance loans, said a consultant from a top global consultancy firm.
With many smaller operators being gobbled up or offering themselves for sale, the number of projects being developed could fall, potentially keeping India from its renewable energy targets, said the consultant, who did not wish to be named as he is directly involved with a company that canceled a bond issue.
“India’s solar industry is becoming a big boys’ club,” said Rahul Goswami, managing director of Greenstone Energy Advisers.
In a few years, there may be only a few big companies and a few regional firms active in India’s renewable sector, he said.
The trend goes back at least to 2016, when Tata Power bought solar and wind company Welspun Renewable Energy, but the pace is expected to pick up.
“Smaller players are being squeezed out ... due to two main factors: cost of equipment and ... financing,” said Alok Verma, executive director at Kotak Investment Banking, an arm of Kotak Mahindra Bank.
One of India’s largest renewables companies, Greenko Group, said in June that it was buying 750 megawatts (MWs) of solar and wind assets from Orange Renewables, because the Singapore-based company saw few opportunities for growth. The deal has yet to be closed.
Essel Infra, with a renewable power capacity of 685 MWs, and Shapoorji Pallonji Group’s 400-MW solar arm are also in talks to sell off their assets, one firm and two banks doing the due diligence for these companies have said.
Besides loans, other funding options have also been dead ends for the smaller companies, further limiting growth opportunities.
ACME Solar postponed an initial public offering (IPO) announced in September last year as the proposed share issue did not generate enough interest from investors, confirmed a banker who was directly involved in the listing attempt.
Mytrah Energy, a major mid-sized renewables company, called off a $300 million to $500 million bond issue earlier this year as that option also went dry for the sector, and it canned IPO plans as well, said a separate banker directly involved there.
The companies have all declined to comment.
This dearth of financing and trend toward consolidation could be a significant threat to India’s target of 175 gigawatts (GWs) of renewables capacity by 2022, up from 71 GWs now, some analysts said.
Others said a concentration of bigger players, with more cash and better financing, could mean things move faster.
“Consolidation in the renewable energy industry augurs well for the overall success of the program ... Large players have access to required capital at reasonable rates and can procure the latest technology,” said Debasish Mishra, head of Energy, Resources and Industrials at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India.
Tata Power, one of India’s largest power generators, said in May it plans to invest $5 billion to increase its renewable capacity in India fourfold over the next decade to 12 GWs.
More than doubling India’s renewables capacity by 2022 will require $76 billion, including debt of $53 billion, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy said in July.
Another problem in India’s renewable sector is debt.
“Many mid-sized firms have taken debt to fund their equity,” the partner of an investment firm said, adding that many such companies will need financial restructuring or have to put themselves up for auction.
This model of financing debt through equity is called mezzanine financing and tends to involve high interest rates and an option to convert debt to equity in future.
Both ACME and Mytrah are funded by Piramal Finance Ltd. via mezzanine financing, according to statements by the companies at the time of funding.
For lending banks, this quasi-equity is seen as debt, making the liabilities of these companies look higher than usual, said the partner, who asked not to be named. The investment firm handles all kinds of financing, including mezzanine.
When companies with mezzanine financing go to banks for funds for upcoming projects, banks ask them for higher collateral or offer less cash in loan, said Kotak’s Verma.
Fitch Solutions said in a note last week that India would likely miss its renewable capacity targets due to “risks stemming from bureaucratic, financing and logistical delays.”