War breaks out between Naturgy and Australian fund IFM over dividend policy

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Naturgy has ensured that its board of directors “has not considered at any time reviewing the principles of the recently approved strategic plan.”

The company has sent a communication to the National Securities Market Commission (CNMV) addressed to its shareholders due to the information that is being published in the press in relation to the possible effects that the partial takeover bid launched by the Australian fund IFM could have on Naturgy, particularly on the dividend.

At this point, Naturgy has reminded its shareholders that its board of directors unanimously approved a strategic plan for the next five years last July. It includes a dividend policy “compatible with investment and growth ambition, as well as with financial prudence that maintains a BBB rating level “.

“Any change in the principles of said strategic plan requires a reinforced majority of the board of directors,” the company stressed, also recalling that IFM’s takeover bid is partial and is not intended to exclude Naturgy from listing on the markets. stock exchanges.

This communication from the group to its shareholders comes after the vice president of IFM Investors, Jaime Siles, will affirm that it is not concerned about the possible reduction of the Naturgy dividend.

“IFM is a fund that by nature does not need a dividend, its premium is sustainable growth. We would be prepared to eliminate the dividend if those are the circumstances the company faces, “he said.

IFM, optimistic in its takeover

The Australian fund IFM has been optimistic about the acceptance process of the Public Offering of Acquisition (opa) that it launched on 22.7% of Naturgy’s capital, which started on September 9 and will conclude on Friday, October 8 .

As stated by the vice president of IFM Investors, Jaime Siles, in a meeting with the press, the feelings about the degree of acceptance by minority shareholders are “positive”, both for the objective data that it handles and for the context of the market that it appreciates.

In this sense, Siles has defended that the entry of new shareholders, such as the one carried out this Tuesday by the fund Davidson Kempner About 1.1% of the capital, they point out that the market already takes the success of the takeover for granted.

The so-called ‘arbitration funds‘, as he explained, they enter a company when they believe that a takeover offer is going to come through, so they buy shares at a price lower than that of the takeover bid in order to go to it and earn the difference.

“The entry of this type of funds indicates that the market sentiment is that the takeover bid will be accepted. They have to be very certain that it will be successful to make such a move,” he said.

Government measures

Another situation that he also believes points to the successful closing of the transaction is that analysts expect a “severe” value correction, which in recent months has been driven by the expectations of this operation, and which should register a decline after the takeover similar to that experienced by its peers, such as Iberdrola or Endesa.

Therefore, he believes that the reaction of minority shareholders will be to accept the offer in order not to suffer this correction, which, in his opinion, the market takes for granted.

The measures recently approved by the Government to deal with the rising price of electricity also contribute to this, which Siles believes make the price offered by the investment fund “irrevocable”, since he considers that they will also end up causing the fall in electricity. action.

Coexistence in the council

IFM thus insists that the price of 22.07 euros offered is “very attractive”, by assuming a premium of 20% compared to the level of January, and of almost 40% compared to the fall that the rest of comparable electricity companies have already suffered.

Once they are shareholders, in the event that the bid goes ahead, the vice president of the fund assures that they are not worried about this fall in the share because their intention is to stay in the long term – “a hundred years ahead,” he said. – so you think you can handle these kinds of uncertainties.

Siles has also insisted that IFM’s intention is to have “proportional representation” on the board, although it has not entered into assessing whether the current number of conejeros (12) has to be modified or remain unchanged.

In any case, IFM has sent a message of reassurance to Criteria, the largest shareholder of Naturgy with 26.1% of the capital: “We will take it well (the future coexistence on the board), there is nothing to fear. Criteria’s values ​​and its way of investing are identical to ours and Government conditions leave no room for doubt. “

IFM has until this Friday to change the price offered or the percentage And till next Tuesday to extend the offer period, but Siles has already confirmed that the intention of the fund is to continue with the same plan, to enter the electricity company, promote sustainable growth, continue trading and live with a ‘free flow’ (or floating capital) “small but in a large company”.

24% less emissions

Naturgy plans to reduce your carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 24% by 2025 and reach in 2050 carbon neutrality, as announced by the company.

These are some of the commitments to sustainability and the fight against climate change that the company has detailed within its Strategic Plan 2021-2025, taking as reference the Paris Agreement.

In the last three years, the energy multinational has reduced its direct CO2 emissions by 30%. In 2020, it reduced its greenhouse gas emissions (-7%) and increased its installed capacity for emission-free generation (+ 10%), which represented 29% of the total installed capacity in that year.

The Director of Environment and Social Responsibility of Naturgy, Nuria Rodriguez, has explained these commitments during his participation in the 9th edition of the ESG Spain 2021: Corporate Sustainability Forum organized by Forética in a debate on ‘The business response to the climate emergency’.

“At Naturgy we believe that the energy transition must be paced in time and form to ensure that it is a just transition, promoting measures that correct imbalances, and without jeopardizing the long-term objectives that imply a carbon neutral economy” , has pointed out Nuria Rodríguez in her speech.

Naturgy explains in a statement that it has been taking “decisive steps” for years to support the energy transition, moving towards a more sustainable energy mix. At the end of 2020, the company had 4.6 GW in clean technology operation and its strategy for the next few years focuses on continuing to grow in renewable energies.

The company’s performance in social, environmental and good governance matters has been recognized by the main and most important indices and rankings in the world, among which are the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, FTSE4GOOD or the Carbon Disclosure Project, as well as the European Environmental Business Awards from the European Commission.


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