July 27, 2018 / 6:23 AM / in a month

Germany agrees investment in 50Hertz, fending off China's State Grid

BERLIN, July 27 (Reuters) - German state bank KfW has agreed to take a 20 percent stake in high-voltage energy network operator 50Hertz, fending off an offer from China’s State Grid.

Australian infrastructure fund IFM had put the 20 percent stake in 50Hertz up for sale, and State Grid this month made an offer worth just below 1 billion euros, people close to the matter told Reuters.

Belgian majority shareholder Elia had a right of first refusal to the stake. It said on Friday that it exercised its right to buy the holding and will immediately sell it on to KfW on the same terms.

There have been concerns in some countries, such as the United States, Germany, France, Australia and Britain, that China and other rivals are gaining access to key technologies via takeovers.

German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier had said in June that he saw a problem in letting critical infrastructure fall into the hands of investors whose motivation and background were not clear, citing 50Hertz as an example.

“The transaction between Elia and KfW fosters Belgian-German cooperation regarding critical grid infrastructure,” Elia said in a statement.

Elia said the acquisition of the 20 percent stake was at similar financial conditions as a 20 percent holding it acquired from IFM in April. It paid 976 million euros ($1.14 billion) for that stake.

IFM and Elia bought 50Hertz from Swedish utility Vattenfall in 2010 for 810 million euros.

The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of 2018. Citi acted as financial adviser to Elia.

$1 = 0.8589 euros Reporting by Victoria Bryan; editing by Jason Neely

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