Coal miners consider bids for South African renewables firm

The Kipeto Wind energy project in Kenya. Credit: BTE Renewables

Exxaro Resources Ltd. and Thungela Resources Ltd., South Africa’s two largest coal miners, are considering bids for Actis LLP’s BTE Renewables, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Chinese firms are also interested in acquiring the assets, said the people who asked not to be identified as the information is private. Actis is seeking about $800 million for the company, the people said.

From Australia to South Africa, companies and governments are looking to expand into cleaner projects in a bid to cut emissions and reduce their dependence on the dirtiest fuel. BTE generates 436 megawatts of electricity from its solar and wind-power plants in South Africa and Kenya, according to the company’s website.

Exxaro and Actis declined to comment about the potential deal. Thungela said its renewable energy plan was currently limited to a solar plant at the eMalahleni water reclamation plant, studies for solar at its Zibulo Colliery and a renewable energy solution at its Elders complex. It said it was not considering a bid for BTE.

Deliberations are ongoing and the companies could decide not to proceed with the bidding process, the people said. Actis could also retain the asset for longer, they added.

South Africa, the continent’s most-industrialized nation, generates the majority of its power from coal and is attempting to accelerate development of green energy. Companies are also considering their own generation due to unreliable supplies from state-owned Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd.

Actis, which appointed Citigroup Inc. to advise on the deal, is looking to cash in on a booming market for new power projects across Africa, where demand for electricity is growing. The London-based private equity firm sold a majority stake in Lekela Power earlier this year.

(By Loni Prinsloo and Paul Burkhardt)

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