February 14, 2018 / 1:13 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Innogy enters Australian solar market with 460 MW projects

* Projects will need more than 400 mln eur in investments

* Looking at all options for ownership, funding

* Solar plants to start operation in late 2019 (Adds context on strategy, details on deal)

FRANKFURT, Feb 14 (Reuters) - German energy firm Innogy on Wednesday bought project rights for two solar power plants in Australia worth more than 460 megawatts, continuing its renewables expansion outside its core market Europe.

The projects, in New South Wales, were bought from Overland Sun Farming, Innogy said, adding that construction was expected to start in 2018. They will require total investment of more than 400 million euros ($494 million).

“This is a perfect fit with our strategy to deliver sustainable bottom line growth in accordance with Innogy’s financial targets to maximise value for the company and our shareholders,” Chief Executive Uwe Tigges said.

The acquisition follows Innogy’s deal in December to buy onshore wind power projects with more than 2 gigawatts of capacity in the United States, its first move into the world’s second biggest wind market.

Shares in Innogy were up 2.5 percent, outperforming a 1.7 percent rise in the STOXX Europe 600 Utilities index. Shares in RWE, Innogy’s parent which holds a 76.8 percent stake, were up 4 percent.

The company’s shares were hit in December when it issued a profit warning related to its British energy supply business npower. Innogy’s CEO Peter Terium left the company shortly afterwards.

Innogy said it would review all options regarding the Australian project’s ownership and financing structure.

The two solar plants are expected to begin commercial operation by the end of next year, Innogy said, adding it was also looking at investment opportunities in the field of battery storage and onshore wind in Australia. ($1 = 0.8089 euros) (Reporting by Christoph Steitz; Editing by Arno Schuetze and Jane Merriman)

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