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YTL Power Acquiring Control of Ranhill Utilities

YTL Power International Bhd is on fire. Just recently, the power utility and infrastructure group was in the news for its involvement in advanced data centre projects. Linked to that is the artificial intelligence (AI) wave. 

Now, the utilities arm of YTL Corp Bhd made another big corporate manoeuvre when it moved in to take a controlling stake in Ranhill Utilities Bhd. It has scooped up the shares related to Tan Sri Hamdan Mohamad for RM405.2 million in a move that will see it making an offer for the remaining shares that it does not own. 

In an exchange filing on May 28, YTL Power said its indirect 70%-owned subsidiary, SIPP Power Sdn Bhd, will be paying 99.5 sen per Ranhill Utilities share in the corporate move. 

It said SIPP Power had entered into an unconditional share purchase agreement with Hamdan, Hamdan Inc (Labuan) Pte Ltd and Hamdan (L) Foundation for the acquisition of 405.18 million existing ordinary shares in Ranhill Utilities representing a 31.42% equity interest in Ranhill Utilities, together with 2.03 million Ranhill Utilities shares to be issued pursuant to the share dividend, for total cash consideration of RM405.18 million. Hamdan is the sole beneficiary of Hamdan Foundation, which was a major shareholder of Ranhill Utilities. 

The acquisition bumps up YTL Power’s holding in Ranhill Utilities to 53.19% from 21.77%, obliging it to extend the mandatory takeover offer (MTO) to acquire all the remaining Ranhill Utilities shares it did not already own. YTL Power said it intended to maintain the listing status of Ranhill Utilities. 

Analyst Reaction 

On the while, the equity analysts have been positive with the move, seeing it as benefitting YTL Power. 

In its report, MIDF Amanah Investment Bank Bhd (MIDF Research) noted that the entry of a “strong controlling shareholder” in YTL Power which operates in similar business segments as Ranhill Utilities was positive and allowed Ranhill Utilities to tap its expertise in the water sector given the former’s strong track record in operating Wessex Water Ltd in the UK. 

“We believe Ranhill Utilities is a strategic fit for YTL Power as both are operating in similar businesses in water and power, albeit with differing scale and geographical presence,” the research house said. 

It noted that Ranhill Utilities would give YTL Power access to exclusive Johor water operations allowing it to capitalise on prospects from the Johor-Singapore Special Economic Zone and potential demand from Johor’s data centre hubs. Additionally, it said the synergistic expertise in water operations could drive further efficiency of Ranhill Utilities’ Johor water business. 

It noted that the deal also gave YTL Power access to the Sabah electricity market whereby Ranhill Utilities controls the largest independent power producer (IPP) share, solidified further by a new 100 megawatts (MW) combined-cycle gas turbine due for commercial operation date in 2026. In addition, Ranhill Utilities has been making headways into renewable energy (RE) with the commissioning of its large-scale solar (LSS4) plant in February 2024. 

“Overall, we see this acquisition as a mid-to-long-term positive for YTL Power,” MIDF Research said, maintaining its ‘Buy’ call on the counter with a 52-week target price (TP) of RM6.35. 

YTL Power has 10 ‘Buy’ and three ‘Hold’ calls on its counter, with no ‘Sell’ call among equity analysts tracked by Bloomberg, with a consensus TP of RM6.21. 

YTL Power built on its origins as Malaysia’s first IPP with its two power stations in Paka, Terengganu, and Pasir Gudang, Johor, diversifying into the international utilities industry. 

It then acquired Wessex Water, a water and sewerage operator in the UK in 2002 and YTL PowerSeraya Pte Ltd, which has a licensed generation capacity of 3,100MW and merchant multi-utilities businesses in Singapore, in 2009. It also owns a 20% effective interest in PT Jawa Power, which owns a 1,220MW power station in Indonesia and a 45% stake in Attarat Power Co, the owner of a 554MW oil shale-fired power project in Jordan. 

In another report, Hong Leong Investment Bank Bhd (HLIB Research) also said that it was “overall positive” on the acquisition which would allow YTL Power to strategically consolidate Ranhill Utilities’ operations (water and LSS) which complements the group’s exist- ing business portfolio and derive potential synergies. 

It added that the deal would also enable YTL Power to foray into the water utility business in Johor and LSS, complementing its strategic growth venture into data centre through YTL Data Centre Holdings Pte Ltd and YesCom-AI Data Centre. 

“Moreover, we expect potential synergistic benefits to integrate Ranhill Utilities into YTL Power’s diversified portfolio of businesses while also leveraging YTL Power’s UK Wessex Water expertise. Ranhill Utilities has also recently achieved commercialisation of its 50MW LSS under LSS4 programme with 25 years power purchase agreement,” HLIB Research said. 

It has a ‘Buy’ call with an unchanged TP of RM7.45. 

RHB Investment Bank Bhd (RHB Research), which has a ‘Buy’ call with a TP of RM6.68, said it believed the stake increase in Ranhill Utilities was a strategic move for YTL Power to complement its portfolio while strengthening its footprint in Johor given its ambitious data centre 

development. It said that while it expected muted near-term impact, it saw potential synergies in the longer run. 

“We believe it could be a strategic fit for YTL Power given its experience in both water treatment and power generation. This will further strengthen its footprint in Johor, where the company is also developing data centres and solar parks. As such, we expect synergies in the long run despite near-term earnings impact being rather insignificant given Ranhill Utilities is estimated to generate a net profit of RM47-RM55 million in financial year 2024 (FY24F) to FY26F,” HLIB Research said. 

Moving forward, it believed that PowerSeraya’s earnings moderation would be largely anchored by Wessex Water’s earnings recovery. 

Hamdan Making Exit 

The move would see Hamdan cashing out from Ranhill Utilities. He started his career as a structural engineer at the engineering consulting firm of Rankine & Hill Pty Ltd in Perth, Western Australia, and subsequently at Ranhill Bersekutu Sdn Bhd (RBSB) in 1981. 

After a sabbatical leave in 1985 to pursue his Master’s degree, Hamdan returned to Malaysia and was appointed as director of RBSB in 1988 and eventually became president/CEO of RBSB in 1995. 

In November 2000, he became ED and president/CEO of Ranhill Bhd where he spearheaded the group’s expansion from an engineering and consulting-based firm to a full-fledged organisation that engineers, constructs, owns and operates facilities in diverse segments including the infrastructure, environment, power, and oil and gas segments. — TMR 

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