Ardian is a shareholder of Enel Rete Gas (now 2i Rete Gas) since 2009. Through the acquisition of Eon Rete Gas and G6 Rete Gas SpA, two major Italian operators in the distribution of natural gas, 2i Rete Gas has become the 2nd largest player and the leading independent operator in the Italian regulated gas distribution industry.
Enel Rete Gas' challenges
Enel Rete Gas was the Italian gas distribution subsidiary of the Enel Group. At that time, the company held a market share of approximately c.12% in terms of volume distributed, with about 2.2 million users connected to the medium and low pressure network of more than 31,000 km.
In 2009, Enel Group decided to optimize its portfolio of subsidiaries to focus on core markets and to divest a controlling stake of its distribution business in Italy.
Ardian saw in Enel Rete Gas an opportunity to capitalize on the positive recent changes in regulation and consolidate the fragmented gas distribution market by creating a leading independent operator. This had to pass through external growth and Ardian has been key in implementing this strategy thanks to its network and its leading investment teams. Over the years, 2i Rete Gas has considerably strengthened its position as the second player in the Italian gas distribution market.
"The experience of Ardian and the quality of its international network were crucial for the two major acquisitions: Eon Rete gas in April 2011 and G6 Rete Gas in September 2011. Thanks to its commitment in the company and the management team, Ardian has allowed us to make of 2i Rete Gas the leading independent operator in the industry with a managed network of about 55,000 km and 3.8 million users."
"Our teams work closely together. We have monthly meetings on recurring business development and financial matters, but the contacts go well beyond; during the acquisitions and refinancing process teams were in daily contact. We keep supporting the management team in its effort to sustainably develop the company."
Mathias Burghardt, Head of Infrastructure at Ardian
Today, Ardian has a 28% stake of 2i Rete Gas, with the remaining 72% owned by F2i. In recent years, 2i Rete Gas has accelerated the pace of acquisitions. In April 2011, the company acquired the Italian gas distribution subsidiary of the German group E.ON, in September 2011, it acquired the Italian gas distribution subsidiary of the Franco-Belgian group GDF Suez (G6 Rete gas) and in December 2013 Enel divested its minority stakes.
The international experience of Ardian’s teams and network proved to be crucial assets. Their direct contacts with gas and electricity utilities top management facilitated bilateral negotiations with subsidiaries 2i Rete Gas wished to acquire. The teams were very active from the due diligence phases and throughout the process, particularly when structuring transactions and negotiating with banks for financing.
Between 2009 and 2013, the company has increase its customer base by over 70% and its turnover from €318m to €846m.
Over time, Ardian team has developed strong links with the management team and today they communicate relatively informally about a whole range of subject relating to what is happening in the company. In 2013, the company has successfully merged with E.On Rete Gas and G6 Rete Gas and the consequent integration process has dragged most of the team efforts in the last 18 months. In the short term, Ardian team intends to focus on defining an appropriate bidding strategy for the upcoming concessions’ tender.
"Since the beginning, Ardian has provided insights into the financial markets and has positively challenged the choices made by the company. With respect to our strategy we intend to continue to grow and our next target is to participate to the new concession tenders being launched over coming years. Ardian commitment and involvement is key in achieving this."
Gianclaudio Neri, CEO of 2i Rete Gas