France’s ENGIE hunts for new India energy partner as Abraaj tie-up comes unstuck

French multinational utility company ENGIE has ended its partnership with Dubai-based private equity investor Abraaj Group for a wind power platform in India.

The Abraaj Group told VCCircle that the firm was helping ENGIE scout for a new partner while it assesses its strategy on clean energy. It is not clear what triggered the split.

"We remain convinced on the clean energy potential in our markets  and the economic and development benefits its brings to businesses and communities," the firm said.

ENGIE chief executive officer Isabelle Kocher had earlier confirmed to The Economic Times that the partnership had ended.

Both parties had announced the plan to develop a platform in September last year with a view to expanding their presence in the country’s growing renewable energy space.

ENGIE said at the time that the wind power platform had identified a robust pipeline of wind power projects representing over 1 gigawatt (GW) in several states.

The split comes less than a month after Abraaj Capital said it had paused fresh deployment while announcing changes to the firm’s governance, operating model and leadership team amid some internal turmoil.

The firm, which has been consistently sealing one deal annually in India, said at the time that pause was only for investments where final commitments have not been made.

This followed media reports that four of Abraaj Capital’s limited partners had sought an independent forensic review of the firm over the alleged mismanagement of its Abraaj Growth Markets Healthcare Fund.

The Abraaj Group has invested over $1 billion in 10 projects globally in the energy sector. In 2015, Abraaj had partnered with Indian conglomerate Aditya Birla Group to build a 1 GW solar energy platform in India.

ENGIE's activity in India

ENGIE is engaged in a diverse set of activities in India. Through its parent company and subsidiaries, ENGIE is active in the country in power transmission and distribution as well as gas pipeline sectors.

It has a solar power capacity of 800 MW either commissioned or under construction in India

Through its unit GDF International, ENGIE sold its entire 10% stake in Petronet LNG Ltd, an importer of liquefied natural gas and an operator of regasification infrastructure, for Rs 3,165 crore (€436 million) last June.

In 2016, it sold its 89% stake in Hyderabad-based Meenakshi Energy and Infrastructure Holdings Pvt Ltd for Rs 1,575 crore ($230 million) to power generation company India Power Corporation Ltd.

The renewable energy space in India has witnessed a lot of activity since the government set an ambitious capacity-addition target of 175 GW across wind and solar by 2022. This includes 100 GW of solar and 60 GW of wind power capacity.

Some of the world’s biggest pension funds, including Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), are also scouting for deals in India’s solar power sector.

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