Southern to acquire interest in Asian power group

Southern Company, through its Southern Electric International subsidiary, today announced a $2.7 billion agreement to purchase a majority interest in Consolidated Electric Power Asia (CEPA), one of the largest independent power producers in Asia, giving the Atlanta-based utility a major market presence in some of the world’s fastest-growing economies.

“Combining the assets of Southern Electric International and CEPA will create one of the world’s largest independent power producers, supplying electricity to the heart of Asia — including three of the world’s most populated countries — as well as Europe, North America and South America,” said Southern Company Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer A. W. Dahlberg.

CEPA, a subsidiary of Hong Kong-based Hopewell Holdings Ltd., builds, owns and operates electric power generating plants in China and the Philippines with projects under development in Pakistan and Indonesia. CEPA owns 3,995 megawatts of power generation with another 1,200 megawatts under construction and power purchase agreements covering an additional 2,640 megawatts. CEPA was established in 1993 as a holding company for Hopewell’s electric power projects.

Southern Electric owns 1,581 megawatts, with another 380 megawatts under construction. Southern Electric operates a total of 2,735 megawatts.

Hopewell is a major developer of infrastructure projects in Asia. Hopewell’s projects include highways, bridges, mass transit systems, retail, commercial and residential properties and hotels. Hopewell currently owns 60.4 percent of CEPA. Both companies are among the largest listed on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong.

Under the agreement, CEPA shareholders will receive $2.1 billion from Southern Company and $600 million in dividends for 80 percent of the company. Hopewell will become the largest minority shareholder of CEPA. The transaction is subject to approvals by the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong and CEPA shareholders.

Dahlberg said the transaction “brings together the technical expertise and market strength of two industry leaders, which will help meet the enormous demand for the economical and reliable electric service needed to fuel Asia’s booming economies.”

CEPA’s Asian power projects “bring a greater regional diversity and geographical balance” to Southern Company’s international holdings, which already include electric power facilities in North America, South America, the Caribbean and Europe, Dahlberg said.

“Two years ago, we established a goal for Southern Electric International to become one of the world’s top independent energy companies as a means of enhancing Southern Company’s long-term growth and income potential and shareholder value,” Dahlberg said. “This partnership with CEPA is a significant step toward that goal.”

Southern Electric International develops, builds, owns and operates power production and delivery facilities and provides a broad range of technical services to utilities and industrial companies in the U.S. and international markets. Southern Electric operates electric power facilities in England, Argentina, Chile, the Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago and the United States. Southern Electric also administers power marketing operations for Southern Company through its Southern Energy Marketing unit.

Southern Company (NYSE: SO), the largest producer of electricity in the United States, is also the parent firm of five electric utilities: Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power, Mississippi Power and Savannah Electric. Other subsidiaries include Southern Communications Services, Southern Development and Investment Group, Southern Nuclear and Southern Company Services. Southern Company’s common stock is one of the 20 most widely held corporate stocks in America.