Toshiba Corp. is set to take a steep loss and pay more than $800 million in a deal with an undisclosed buyer to dump its U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) business.
While Tokyo-based Toshiba said it would name the buyer once the deal is complete next year, various publications have reported that China’s ENN Energy Holdings Ltd., a natural gas distributor, would acquire Toshiba America LNG Corp. Nikkei Asian Review, a daily financial newspaper in Japan, first reported on the buyer.
ENN is poised to pay $15 million for TAL’s shares. Toshiba would then pay $821 million for ENN to take over its long-term LNG offtake agreement with Freeport LNG, the export facility under construction in Southeast Texas on Quintana Island about 70 miles south of Houston where operations are scheduled to begin next year.
Toshiba, a multinational conglomerate focused heavily on electronics, started talks with various suitors over the summer to sell the LNG segment and announced the deal last week. It comes amid a review of the company’s portfolio that identified LNG as a “noncore business” without foreseeable “synergies” that’s subject to “the potential risk of losses” in a volatile energy market.
The company signed a binding 20-year liquefaction tolling agreement with Freeport in 2013 for 2.2 million tons/year of LNG. Despite the loss it expects to incur, Toshiba said ENN’s offer was the best it received and added that the complex deal makes the most economic sense given its projections for the LNG business.
Earlier this year, Freeport LNG delayed the start-up of its facility by nearly one year. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has since approved the commissioning of the first train at the terminal. The first three trains are now scheduled to enter service between 3Q2019 and 2Q2020, with the capacity to liquefy roughly 700 MMcf/d.