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Sempra Energy Unit's Pemex Deal Gets Mexican Antitrust Clearance

Mexico's federal antitrust commission on Wednesday approved a stalled billion-dollar deal for a unit of San Diego-based Sempra Energy to acquire a 50% interest in a group of energy pipelines and an associated storage terminal from Mexico's national energy company, Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex). The deal is expected to close later this month.

Infraestructura Energetica Nova, SAB de CV's (IEnova) buyout of Pemex's interest in their multi-faceted Gasoductos de Chihuahua joint venture last year had been challenged by Mexico's antitrust commission, the Comision Federal de Competencia Económica (COFECE).

The transaction was among a quintet of buyouts announced a year ago, valued at US$1.325 billion, which included three natural gas pipelines, an ethane pipeline, and liquid petroleum gas pipeline and storage facilities (see Daily GPIAug. 3, 2015). Pemex's 50% equity interest in Gasoductos de Chihuahua cost IEnova approximately $1.1 billion, Sempra said.

Both IEnova and Pemex have been pushing ahead to salvage the unit’s buyout of Pemex's interest (see Daily GPIDec. 22, 2015).

Gasoductos de Chihuahua develops and operates energy infrastructure in Mexico, and its assets in the transaction include the five pipelines, along with the related storage facility. IEnova has invested more than US$4 billion in operating assets and projects under construction in Mexico.

Sempra has maintained a keen interest in Mexico, which was culminated with the successful, nearly billion-dollar initial public offering for IEnova three years ago (see Daily GPIMay 6, 2013). Sempra senior executives call it the second-largest energy company in Mexico today, and the first energy infrastructure company to be listed on the Mexican Stock Exchange.

Sempra senior executives have championed the strategy that energy infrastructure development south of the border is a good long-term growth opportunity (see Daily GPIAug. 8, 2014) and the current Mexican political leadership would encourage more private investment in the energy sector (see Daily GPIMarch 3, 2015).

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