14 May 2014

Infratil may divest energy businesses

6:56 am on 14 May 2014

Infratil may end up selling its Lumo Energy and Direct Connect Australia businesses, depending on the outcome of the company's strategic review of its Infratil Energy Australia Group.

The Wellington-based infrastructure and investment company made a $199 million net profit for the 12 months ended March, compared with $3 million the previous year.

However, operating profit fell 5.3 percent, largely due to reduced contributions from its 50.4 percent-owned power company, Trustpower, and the Infratil Energy Australia Group.

This is partly due to the weaker Australian dollar. Trustpower has a large wind energy programme in Australia.

As well, Infratil operates the large energy business across the Tasman, Lumo Energy. Lumo is an energy retailer and generator, while Direct Connect is a utility connections provider for the real estate industry.

Infratil chief executive Marko Bogoievski said the assets were a substantial part of its business.

He said the Australian generating market has historically had three integrated players, or retailers and generators and a whole host of second-tier players, of which Infratil is the largest.

Mr Boboievski said there was now an overwhelming push for further consolidation in the industry.

He said Infratil was ready for a range of outcomes.

"We're seeing it as a chance to test the market's appetite for our sort of asset - it could result in outright sale and further consolidation or it could result in a fourth large integrated player ultimately emerging over time."

Mr Bogoievski said they were ready for all those outcomes, but could also hold onto the business if they were not happy with what happened over time.

Infratil said it will face regulatory hurdles across a number of its businesses this year.

Trustpower makes up about 40 percent of Infratil's investments.

Mr Bogoievski said the biggest issue dominating its share price right now is investors' views on the electricity market in New Zealand.