RIO DE JANEIRO – Spanish power company Iberdrola wants to do an initial public offering (IPO) of its Brazilian unit, Neoenergia, on the Sao Paulo Stock Exchange without losing voting control.
The Spanish energy company, which tried to do an IPO of the unit in 2017, owns a 52.45 percent stake in Neoenergia, the second-largest electric utility in Brazil.
Neoenergia’s board has scheduled a special shareholders meeting on Monday in Rio de Janeiro to approve, among other things, an IPO.
The plan prepared by Iberdrola, which is led by chairman and CEO Ignacio Sanchez Galan, to list Neoenergia shares on the Sao Paulo Stock Exchange without giving up voting control was bolstered by state-owned Banco do Brasil, which has a 9.34 percent interest in the power company and agreed to sell all its stock in the IPO.
The third partner in Neoenergia is Previ, the Banco do Brasil employee pension fund, which has a 38.21 percent stake in the utility company and has expressed interest in the IPO.
Previ, however, has not decided whether it will keep its current position or sell some stock.
Banco do Brasil, for its part, made it clear in a statement sent to securities regulators on April 23 that it planned to sell its entire Neoenergia stake as part of a broader asset divestment effort by the new management team.
The bank’s new officers were appointed by far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who took office on Jan. 1 vowing to implement market-friendly reforms and reduce the state’s role in the economy via the privatization of all interests in non-strategic industries.
Banco do Brasil, the largest bank in this South American nation, said the share sale would “depend on favorable financial market conditions domestically and internationally.”
In late 2017, Neoenergia scrapped an IPO after Banco do Brasil and Previ refused to accept the price range set by underwriters, arguing that the sale would generate proceeds that were below their expectations.
Last week, Sanchez Galan said during a meeting with analysts that Iberdrola did not want to lose voting control over Neoenergia, but it would sell some shares in the IPO.
Iberdrola owned stakes in Neoenergia and Elektro, which merged in June 2017, creating Latin America’s largest electric utility in terms of customers at 13.6 million.
In June 2018, Iberdrola lost a battle with Italy’s Enel for control of Eletropaulo, one of the largest electric utilities in Brazil with 7 million customers and No. 1 in terms of revenues.
The deal allowed Enel to reach 17 million customers in Brazil and knock Neoenergia out of the No. 1 spot as the power company with the largest ratepayer base in Brazil.
Neoenergia operates in 16 of Brazil’s 27 states and owns electricity generation, transmission, distribution and marketing units.