The CVC fund goes from words to deeds to maintain its commitment to Naturgy. The venture capital giant has agreed with the bank to refinance its loan of 1,600 million euros with which it financed the purchase of 20% of Naturgy. It has managed to extend the maturity of this liability from 2024 to 2027, a necessary step to retain its stake in the gas company.
In recent months, the market has begun to speculate on the departure of Naturgy’s funds. The GIP fund entered the company’s capital in 2016 and CVC did the same in 2018, in both cases with 20%. The first fund has been in the firm for seven years now and the second, five, a period that is usually more than usual for funds to undo their positions and collect capital gains. The company’s project to split between its regulated and liberalized assets, the so-called Geminis Project, was interpreted by the market as a way of facilitating the outflow of funds. The government’s slamming of the operation has forced the company to bury the plan and seek new alternatives to achieve stability in the shareholding.
In the midst of all this noise, CVC did something unusual in its history. Its manager in Spain, Javier de Jaime, has tried to put an end to the speculation and has openly stated that he does not have a timetable for disinvestment and that CVC’s investment terms in this company could be longer.
Now, the British fund goes from words to deeds. He has agreed with the bank to refinance the loan of 1,616 million with which he paid for the takeover of 20% of Naturgy in 2018, for which he paid 3,800 million. CVC carried out this transaction through the company Rioja Acquisitions, in which Corporación Financiera Alba also participates. Now it has agreed to extend the maturities of the liabilities with more than twenty financial institutions. Santander, CaixaBank, Crédit Agricole, Société Générale and Natixis have worked as coordinating banks for the financing.
It is the second time that CVC has refinanced this loan since it was initialed in 2018. The loan originally expired in 2023 and had an amount of 1,950 million. In 2019, it signed a renegotiation, in which it extended the maturities until 2024 and reduced the amount to 1,830 million euros.
This meant that this macrocredit would expire in 2024, just one year from now. Given the prospect that the divestment will be delayed well beyond 2024, the fund has been forced to renegotiate with the bank to obtain more time. The financial institutions have granted it three more years and have brought the maturity to 2027. In exchange, CVC has once again reduced the amount of the loan to 1,616 million euros.
This operation definitively leaves CVC off the Naturgy exit ramp. And in it only GIP, which has not ruled whether it is actively seeking the sale. The market speculates on the French oil company Total as a possible buyer. But he is not the only one who can fish in this situation.
The third actor is IFM. The Australian fund has sent a strong message to the market with the purchase of six million shares this week, which allows it to exceed 14% of the capital. The fund’s perspective when it launched the takeover bid two years ago was to gain between 16% and 22% of the capital and two representatives on the board of directors. After having failed in the takeover bid and having settled for 10%, it has been reinforcing its capital with purchases of shares in the market. Leave the door open to continue buying if market conditions prevail.
The message from this fund, in line with De Jaime’s statements, is that they have no intention of selling either and their bet is very long term. Once the misgivings of the first shareholder, Criteria, had been overcome, IFM emerged as an ideal buyer for part of the GIP shares.
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