Aquila Inc. said it received US$477 million after fees and expenses for its Australian energy investments from a consortium representing Alinta Limited, AMP Henderson and their affiliates. The proceeds were about US$32 million higher than earlier estimates mainly because of a stronger Australian dollar.

Aquila said the net proceeds will be used to repay obligations under its recent 364-day secured loan and for other actions to strengthen the company’s balance sheet.

Aquila’s investments in Australia included a 34% investment in United Energy Limited, the first electric distribution system to be privatized by the state of Victoria. Aquila purchased its interest in UEL in 1995. Prior to the sale Aquila also owned a significant minority interest in Alinta, a natural gas distributor and operator of a retail gas business in the state of Western Australia, and an interest in Multinet Gas, a gas distribution business in Victoria.

The sale of the Australian investments is part of Aquila’s back to basics strategy, which has involved exiting the energy trading business, selling international assets and merchant power plants and refocusing on its utility operations in Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and Michigan (see Daily GPI, June 6, June 2).

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