Babcock sells NZ$20m of wind assets

The sale of its remaining interest in the Te Rere Hau wind farm in New Zealand is part of the firm's plan to restructure by selling off non-core assets to pay down a debt load of A$3.25bn. Last month Babcock agreed to sell its interest in Portuguese wind assets in a €1.15bn deal.

Windfarm developer NZ Windfarms has agreed to buy out the remaining stake in Te Rere Hau Wind Farm joint venture for NZ$20.1 million (€8.9 million; $10.8 million) from NPBB, a wind investment entity partially owned by Australian infrastructure specialist Babcock & Brown. 

NZ subsidiary NZWL Limited will buy the remaining 50 percent stake in the joint venture in an all-cash transaction.

Wind power: helping
Babcock deleverage

Babcock’s ownership interest in NPBB flows through Babock & Brown Windpower – a controlled entity of the firm that invests in windpower and is separate from its Australian Stock Exchange-listed satellite fund, Babcock & Brown Wind Partners.

The transaction arose from a decision by Babcock & Brown and NP Power, the shareholders of NPBB, to divest certain assets, David Walker, the chairman of NZ Windfarms, said in a statement.

As part of its ongoing restructuring effort, Babcock announced late last week that it has negotiated A$150 million of new loans from its syndicate of 25 lenders that will enable it to continue operating in the near term. As part of the deal, it will swap out some of its debt load, A$3.1 billion before the agreement was reached, into equity.

To repay the debt, Babcock has been selling off its interests in non-core, or non-infrastructure, assets, which include its interests in wind farm projects. The firm is in negotiations to sell wind energy assets in France, Greece and Germany and most recently sold its interest in a portfolio of Portugese wind assets it owned jointly with Babcock & Brown Wind Partners for €1.15 billion.

The Te Rere Hau Wind Farm, located on the southern part of New Zealand’s North Island, is in the process of developing a total of 97 wind turbines that will provide an installed capacity of 48.5 megawatts. Five turbines have been operating on the site since September 2006 and a further 30 are being erected and commissioned.

The transaction will enable the wind farm to achieve a positive operational cashflow more rapidly, Walker said. It is expected to close in the first quarter of 2009 and is conditional on approval from NZ Windfarms shareholders and other contractual consents.