Home » Li Ka-shing’s CK Infrastructure buys more UK renewable energy assets

Li Ka-shing’s CK Infrastructure buys more UK renewable energy assets

The UU Solar assets include 65 solar-power projects, four onshore wind farms and one hydropower plant, with combined installed capacity of 68.7 megawatts. Most of the electricity output is supplied to water and sewerage firm United Utilities Water, with the remainder exported to the power grid.

People walk along the Southbank with the Palace of Westminster in the background, in London on January 8, 2024. Photo: EPA-EFE

“With 90 per cent of the revenue underpinned by long-term agreements and UK government renewable subsidies, UU Solar will deliver immediate returns, recurrent profit contributions and consistent cash flows,” CKI said.

“CKI will also study new investment opportunities that arise from this global decarbonisation journey as part of the overall business development strategy.”

Daiwa Capital Markets analysts Leo Ho and Dennis Ip said in a note on Tuesday that they considered CKI’s acquisition price to be “fair”, as it is around 10 per cent less than that paid by the assets’ seller, UK-based SDCL Energy Efficiency Income Trust, in 2022.

CKI said its businesses in multiple countries are involved in a slew of initiatives to support decarbonisation and climate mitigation, including power grid technology, electric vehicle charging, introduction of hydrogen fuel into gas distribution operations and waste management and recycling.

The UU Solar acquisition is CKI’s second investment in the past two weeks, following on the heels of its acquisition of Lionrai Investments No. 1, which owns 100 per cent of natural gas network company Phoenix Energy.

On April 24, CKI formed a consortium with CK Asset and Power Assets to buy the asset from NatWest Group Pension Fund and Utilities Trust of Australia for £757 million.

Phoenix Energy is one of three gas distribution network operators in Northern Ireland. Its network covers nearly half of the local population, including Greater Belfast, and accounts for 78 per cent of gas connections in Northern Ireland.

Europe and Australia account for most of CKI’s profit, as it struggles at home. Profit contribution for Hong Kong and mainland China fell 40 per cent in 2023 to HK$117 million, the company said in a report last month, citing poor performance of its infrastructure materials manufacturing business amid a “major decline” in construction activity in mainland China.

Overall, CKI reported 3.6 per cent year on year growth in net profit to HK$8 billion in 2023 and said it had HK$13 billion in cash on hand and a low gearing ratio of 7.7 per cent as of December 31. Infrastructure investments in Hong Kong and mainland China fell to HK$111 million in 2023 from HK$183 million in 2022.

CKI owns a stake in Power Assets, and net profit derived from that stake grew 6.4 per cent year on year to HK$2.16 billion in 2023.