Southern Company enters Brazilian market

Southern Company, through its Southern Energy Inc. subsidiary, has exercised its option to purchase 8.25 percent of the voting shares of a Brazilian utility for $274 million.

The Brazilian utility, Companhia Energetica de Minas Gerais (CEMIG), is headquartered in Belo Horizonte. It serves the state of Minas Gerais, which has a population of more than 16 million in southern Brazil. CEMIG is a fully integrated utility with generation, transmission and distribution assets. With a distribution area the size of France, it is the largest electricity distributor in South America, providing energy to 4.5 million homes and businesses.

“Our investment in CEMIG will immediately contribute to our earnings,” said A.W. Dahlberg, Southern Company’s chairman, president and chief executive officer. A consortium including a Southern Energy affiliate in Brazil successfully bid in May to buy 33 percent of the voting shares of CEMIG for $1.056 billion, gaining a 14.4 percent economic interest in the company. Southern Energy initially had no money in the transaction, providing technical and operational support and retaining the right to participate in the transaction.

“We wanted a stake in CEMIG because Brazil is such a rapidly growing energy market,” said Rick Pershing, Southern Energy’s senior vice president over international operations. “The structure of the deal also allows us to play a significant role in the company’s management, something we require of any of our investments.”

Southern Company’s board approved participation in the transaction, authorizing Southern Energy to buy 8.25 percent of CEMIG’s voting shares for $274 million, including non-recourse debt of $150 million. With the purchase, Southern Energy holds a 3.6 percent economic interest in CEMIG.

Southern Company (NYSE: SO), the largest producer of electricity in the United States, is the parent firm of Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power, Mississippi Power and Savannah Electric. Based in Atlanta, Southern Company supplies electricity in ten countries on four continents and provides energy-related marketing, trading and technical services and wireless telecommunications. Southern Company’s common stock is one of the 20 most widely held corporate stocks in America.

Southern Energy Inc., a unit of Southern Company, develops, builds, owns and operates power production and delivery facilities and provides a broad range of services to utilities and industrial companies around the world.