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The SNAM group will play a leading role in the UAE’s gas infrastructure

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The group, allied with 5 international investment funds, is in pole position for 49% of the infrastructure.

Rome. The weight of the Italian companies in the energy sector in the Persian Gulf is increasing. By the end of the month, the operation that will bring the Snam group to play a leading role in the Abu Dhabi gas infrastructure should close. In fact, negotiations are in the final stages for the sale of 49% of the company headed by Adnoc, the giant controlled by the Emirate government that is opening its activities to foreign groups at various levels.

Snam, controlled by the Ministry of Economy through CDP, is the only industrial group within the international consortium that has earned the right to sit at the table with Adnoc. In addition to Snam, there are five investment funds: the American Global Infrastructures Partners (as lead), the Canadians Brookfield and Ontario Teachers Pension Fund, the Korean NH to end up with Gic, the sovereign wealth fund of Singapore. According to what Bloomberg reported, the consortium is negotiating the loan with a pool of banks: the transaction that evaluates the company of Adnoc around 15-16 billion foresees a leverage around 70-80 percent of the total investment, so the cash financial commitment of the various components is a few hundred million.

The reason why the consortium is made up of several funds and only one industrial partner is easy to say. The family that leads the Emirate is opening up its activities in hydrocarbons to foreign investments: ranging from permits to search for oil and gas fields to infrastructure development. Consequently, it seeks long-term allies interested in sharing the economic growth process of Abu Dhabi: sovereign and pension funds are ideal because they have a short-term investment perspective and seek certain but lower yields, unlike funds more speculative.

At the same time, Abu Dhabi needs technology. This explains the presence of Snam. The company led by Marco Alverà has become in recent years one of the European leaders in the management of gas pipelines (with activities from the south of France to Great Britain, from Greece to Albania): if the Abu Dhabi operation goes through, it will work in close contact with Adnoc technicians in the management of a network of over a thousand kilometers that connects all the Emirate’s plants.

It is the same logic with which Eni took over 20% of the Adnoc company that manages the country’s refineries, among the largest globally. Considering that the Milanese group Maire Tecnimont, specialized in the construction of petrochemical plants, has been working in Abu Dhabi for years, it can be said that the geopolitical weight of Italian companies in the Gulf could take a new step forward.

Source: article by Luca Pagni for La Repubblica.it

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