China’s State Grid to purchase 49% stake in Oman Electricity
$1bn purchase is by far largest Chinese investment in Middle Eastern country
China’s State Grid has agreed to buy a 49 per cent stake in Oman’s Electricity Holding CompChina’s State Grid has agreed to buy a 49 per cent stake in Oman’s Electricity Holding Company, signalling a renewed push by the world’s largest utility to strike big-ticket deals for overseas assets.
State Grid said in a statement that the purchase — by far the largest Chinese investment on record in the small Middle Eastern country — would promote China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a controversial $1tn plan to build and invest in infrastructure across the Eurasian landmass and on to the fringes of Europe.
The Beijing-based electricity provider did not give any financial details, but people familiar with the matter said that the company would pay about $1bn for the stake in the state-owned Omani group, known as Nama.
State Grid branded the deal in Oman as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, or BRI. Under the ambitious plan, Chinese companies have built desperately needed bridges and ports across the developing world but have been criticised by analysts as leaving poor countries saddled with debt they cannot repay.
Some projects in Pakistan have proceeded only under pressure from the Chinese government.
State Grid was once one of China’s most aggressive state-backed overseas investors.
In 2016 it spent a total of $8.4bn on seven global acquisitions, according to data from Refinitiv. That year it agreed to buy a controlling stake in CPFL Energia, Brazil’s largest power distributor, and a large stake in Greece’s power grid operator. The company also operates networks in Italy, Portugal and Australia.
At the time, advisers to the group viewed it as a large investment holding company with plans to control power utilities around the globe.any,