Abu Dhabi sells stake in electric carmaker Tesla

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By Dinesh Nair / Reuters

DUBAI: Abu Dhabi National Energy (TAQA), a state-owned oil explorer and power supplier, has sold its 7 percent stake in Tesla Motors Inc, cashing out from the US electric carmaker’s steady stock rally.

TAQA, which is 75-percent owned by the government of Abu Dhabi, said it made a profit of $113 million on the sale, which was effected through the stock market and at Tesla’s last closing price would have fetched $250 million.

Tesla, founded in 2003 by a group of Silicon Valley engineers, is best known for the Tesla Roadster, a car launched in 2008 and now sold in 32 countries.

Carmakers Daimler and Toyota also own stakes in the company, which expects to turn profitable in 2013 and sees revenues this year nearly tripling, spurred by deliveries of its premium electric sedan, the Model S, set to begin in July.

Tesla shares have risen 21 percent year-to-date and have doubled from its 2010 listing price of $17 on bullish investor sentiment towards the electric car industry at a time of rising oil prices.

TAQA said it had sold the 7.3 million shares transferred to it by the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA) in December 2010.

“While TAQA respects and has admiration for Tesla’s vision, technology and products, Tesla was a non-core investment for TAQA that was originally made by ADWEA and transferred to us. We hope to use the profit to pursue energy opportunities in the MENA (Middle East North Africa) region,” said a TAQA spokesman.

Oil-rich Abu Dhabi, which accounts for more than half of the UAE’s economy, is reviewing its overseas investment portfolio as part of measures to instill more discipline in dealmaking among its investment firms.

The emirate is still the largest shareholder in Daimler through its sovereign wealth fund Aabar Investments.

Kurdistan buy

In a separate statement, TAQA said it bought a 50 percent interest in a Kurdistan power plant, which has been operating since 2009. The power plant has a capacity of 750 megawatts, with an additional 250 megawatts under construction, TAQA said.

The company signed a joint venture agreement with Mass Global Investments Co Ltd for the purchase, it said.

“There is a 15 year take or pay agreement (750 MW) in place with the Ministry of Electricity, Kurdistan Region. The facility receives gas from an underground pipeline connecting the Khor Mor gas field to the plant,” said Virtanen.

Semi-autonomous since 1991, Kurdistan has enjoyed more security than the rest of Iraq and energy majors have flocked into the region with big investment plans.

Abu Dhabi-listed TAQA, which invests in oil and gas overseas, also runs power plants in Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Ghana, India and the United States and plans to start oil and gas operations in north Africa.

TAQA is a major shareholder in the Netherlands’ Bergermeer gas storage facility with capacity of 4.1 billion cubic meters, and is also involved in an offshore gas production project in the Dutch North Sea.

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