The president of the La Caixa Banking Foundation, Isidro Fainé, reaffirmed this Monday the institution’s commitment to Naturgy and the importance for it of the dividend it receives from the company as a “fundamental pillar” for Welfare Projects. This invests “more than 500 million euros each year in social programs, culture and science, research and health, and education and scholarships,” says the executive in a statement released by the Foundation.
“Given the news about the remuneration policy for Naturgy’s shareholders, la Caixa, a significant shareholder of the energy company through its holding company of investees Criteria Caixa (also chaired by Fainé) expresses its strong commitment to what was unanimously approved by the board of said company within the framework of its Strategic Plan 2021-2025, and especially in relation to the shareholder remuneration policy that it envisages the aforementioned plan ”, the statement includes.
Australian fund IFM takeover offer
This reaction occurred amid the bid launched by the IFM fund on 22.69% of Naturgy at 22.09 euros and after its head in Spain, Jaime Siles, stated last week that the Australian fund was willing to propose temporarily a “very significant reduction of the dividend or even its elimination if necessary”. Siles added that, in return, investments could be boosted, which the plan amounts to 14,000 million euros in the period.
Group sources indicated that there was no intention to modify the plan approved by the board of directors and that, in any case, it would have to be raised within it. Naturgy’s strategic plan proposes that the dividend be 1.20 euros per share until 2025, which represents a cut on the 1.44 distributed last year and a pay out 85% on average between 2021 and 2025, although it will be evaluated again in 2023).
According to Fainé, this decision would be disastrous for Obra Social and, therefore, he wants to underline that the Foundation he presides is “fully committed” to Naturgy and reaffirms its will to strengthen its capital “and to continue as the leading Spanish shareholder” . Naturgy is and has always been one of the main investments of Criteria Caixa, which currently owns 26.3% of the capital. The dividends it receives annually from Naturgy exceed 300 million, which is why they exceed more than half of the annual expenditure of the Social Action of the Banking Foundation, aimed at developing a society of opportunities.
The acceptance period for IFM’s partial takeover bid for Naturgy expires next Friday and is subject to obtaining the adhesion of at least 17% of the shareholders. The shareholders of the company’s hard core (in addition to Criteria, the CVC and GIP funds) refused to sell, as did the Algerian state company Sonatrach (4.1%), so the success of the offer depends on the support it gets from minority shareholders, who control around 30%.