SSE, the FTSE 100 energy company, has sold a 25 per cent stake in its electricity transmission network in Scotland to Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board for £1.5bn, as it seeks to raise cash to invest in renewable energy.
SSE put the business up for sale last November but the process has taken more than a year. The proceeds will be used to pay for the transition to renewables such as investment in wind farms.
London-listed SSE operates gas-fired and hydroelectric power plants and wind farms along with an electricity transmission division. That business is one of three regional infrastructure monopolies in the UK whose pylons and cables carry electricity from power generators to homes and businesses.
As the networks are regional monopolies with no competition, their revenues are set by the regulator Ofgem and funded by levies on consumer energy bills.
Rob McDonald, managing director of SSEN Transmission, said: “With the north of Scotland home to the UK’s greatest resources of renewable electricity we have a critical role to play in helping deliver the UK and Scottish governments’ net zero commitments.
“Our investments will also be key to securing the UK’s future energy independence through enabling the deployment of homegrown, affordable, low-carbon power.”
The business will be chaired by SSE’s finance director, Gregor Alexander, and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board will get seats on the board.
Investor appetite for infrastructure assets has held strong since the pandemic started, when other industries such as retail were badly affected. However, rising financing costs had made it more difficult to close deals, people close to the negotiations said.
Last year a consortium backed by Ontario Teachers and Brookfield Super-Core Infrastructure Partners agreed to buy SSE’s remaining stake in a Scottish natural gas network for £1.2bn.
A consortium led by Macquarie also bought a 60 per cent stake in National Grid’s UK gas transmission business this year.
However, in June a £15bn takeover of Britain’s largest electricity distributor to a Macquarie-led consortium collapsed after the vendor, Li Ka-shing’s CK Infrastructure Holdings, increased the price two days before the agreement was due to be signed.
Ontario Teachers is one of Canada’s biggest pension funds. It recently lost $95mn on an investment in the collapsed cryptocurrency exchange FTX, but said it would have only “limited impact”.