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WSJ UPDATE: Hong Kong's CLP Says IPO, Full Sale Among Options For Australia's TRUenergy Unit

05/04/2012 | 05:36am US/Eastern

--TRUenergy IPO could raise US$3 billion, according to people familiar with the deal, in Australia's biggest IPO

--TRUenergy IPO is scheduled for the second half of 2012, people say

(Updates with potential uses of proceeds in 10th paragraph, background on TRUenergy in 11th)

By Gillian Tan and Yvonne Lee

Power generator CLP Holdings Ltd. (0002.HK) said Friday it is weighing a full sale of its TRUenergy unit in Australia among other options, including an initial public offering that would be the biggest Down Under in 18 months.

"We are in the process of undertaking a review of the TRUenergy business and ownership structure and are presently considering a number of alternatives, which might include a joint venture, partial or full sale, IPO or other transaction," a CLP spokeswoman told The Wall Street Journal in an emailed statement Friday.

It comes as CLP this week received pitches for lead manager roles on the possible initial public offering of TRUenergy, expected to be worth around 3 billion Australian dollars (US$3.1 billion), people familiar with the matter said.

UBS AG (UBS), Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), Credit Suisse Group AG (CS), Deutsche Bank AG (DB), Commonwealth Bank of Australia (>> Commonwealth Bank of Australia) and the RBS-CIMB unit of Malaysia's CIMB Group Holdings Bhd. (1023.KU) are among the banks who pitched, the people said.

Australia's largest investment bank, Macquarie Group, decided not to pitch for a role on what it is likely to be Australia's largest IPO since QR National Ltd. (>> QR National) raised A$4 billion in November 2010.

Macquarie chose not to pitch due to conflicts of interest, including its relationship with long-standing core client Origin Energy Ltd. (>> Origin Energy Limited). It is also acting as joint lead manager on an IPO of the New Zealand government's sale of 49% of Mighty River Power, which is scheduled for the second half of 2012, one of the people said.

TRUenergy is scheduled to join the main board of the Australian Securities Exchange in the second half of 2012, the people said.

Investment bank Rothschild is advising TRUenergy on the IPO process.

The CLP spokeswoman confirmed it has engaged financial advisors on a preliminary basis to review a future possible listing of TRUenergy, declining to elaborate further.

Analysts have said that part of the proceeds from selling a stake in TruEnergy could go towards CLP's moves to jointly buy with a Chinese state-owned firm, the stake in a power generating joint venture in Hong Kong. CLP, which supplies power to Kowloon and the New Territories, said it wants to buy with China's state-owned China Southern Power Grid Co. ExxonMobil Energy Ltd.'s stake in Castle Peak Power Co. CLP owns a 40% stake in Castle Peak.

TRUenergy provides energy to more than 2.7 million Australian households and owns and operates a host of energy generation and storage facilities. In March 2011, TRUenergy completed its A$2.18 billion acquisition of power assets from Australia's New South Wales state. In October, the company outlined its intentions to build two gas-fired power stations in Australia's Queensland state valued at a combined A$3.6 billion.

An IPO by TruEnergy will be a welcome deal for the Australian equity market. Australia's equity capital market has been tepid in 2012 to date, with just US$208 million from 16 deals raised as of May 4 according to data provider Dealogic.

-By Gillian Tan, of The Wall Street Journal; +61-2-82724694; gillian.tan@wsj.com

-Prudence Ho and Yvonne Lee in Hong Kong contributed to this article.

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