In the second major windpark deal this week, a Hong Kong group led by the richest man in Asia has bought up Iberwind – one of Portugal’s largest operators – purportedly for €1 billion.
The news comes days after an Australian fund linked to the Commonwealth Bank of Australia paid €900 million for 13 windparks run by Italian group Enel in the north and centre of Portugal.
This second deal involves 31 parks, again spread over the north and centre of the country – with one down south in Vila do Bispo, Algarve.
Set up in 1998, Iberwind claims to have enough turbines with an installed capacity to produce 15% of electricity produced by wind power in Portugal, and “about 3% of the electricity consumed in the country”.
But nowhere in the Portuguese news stories on deal is there any mention of how much wind turbines are known to deteriorate over the years, and how this affects the amount of electricity produced. Unlike the UK however, the Portuguese government still offers subsidies to investors in wind energy and this will continue to make them attractive.
For now Portuguese media simply concentrates on the fact that the Magnum group, led by Portuguese businessman João Talone, has sold Iberwind – Portugal’s second largest wind energy producer – to a consortium “controlled by investor Li Ka-Shing, a Hong Kong millionaire” who, according to Forbes magazine, is the richest man in Asia.
“We are very satisfied and honoured to have brought Group Cheung Kong to Portugal”, João Talone told journalists. It is “one of the largest economic conglomerates in the world, with a large experience in various financial and industrial areas, namely those in the production and distribution of electrical energy”.
Strangely, Bloomberg reports on the same deal but gives a very different figure.
Li Ka-Shing is described as having paid considerably less for Iberwind – €288 million – and the “deal is subject to regulatory approvals”, adds the US website.
Another aspect of the story that received no mention in the Portuguese stories is that 87-year-old Li Ka-Shing – known as “Superman” in Hong Kong for his business skills – has recently received something of a pasting in Chinese media for being “unpatriotic”.
“Li was upbraided by the People’s Daily, regarded as the Chinese Communist Party’s mouthpiece”, writes CNN, for “offloading assets.
“That followed a long article from a think tank affiliated with Xinhua, China’s official news agency, which accused him of abandoning China just as the economy was slowing down”.
Even today, the South China Morning Post runs with a story, entitled: “Tycoons not the boss anymore as Beijing calls the shots”.
“Superman” has retaliated with a rare public statement completely refuting the allegations, and calling the media attacks a “brouhaha”.
For the record, Li Ka-Shing’s net worth is quoted by Forbes (2014) as 31.9 billion dollars (around €28.5 billion).