Montreal-based global engineer SNC-Lavalin International Inc. announced on Feb. 11 that it would acquire the remaining 24.08% of AltaLink, Calgary, Alberta, becoming the sole owner of Canada’s only independent power transmission company.
SNC-Lavalin, which has a 76.92% ownership interest in AltaLink, will purchase the remaining interest from Macquarie Essential Assets Partnership (MEAP) for $213 million. The transaction is subject to approval by the Alberta Utilities Commission. MEAP, formed by Australia-based Macquarie Group in 2003, is Canada’s first fund focusing on infrastructure assets.
SNC-Lavalin made the offer in response to an offer from an unidentified third party to acquire the MEAP ownership stake. SNC-Lavalin had the right of first refusal.
SNC-Lavalin, Macquarie, the Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan and Washington, D.C.-based Trans-Elect Inc. purchased AltaLink from Canadian utility TransAlta in 2002 for $850 million. Over time, MEAP and SNC-Lavalin acquired all interest in the company.
AltaLink serves 85% of Alberta’s population with 11,800 kilometers in transmission lines and 270 substations. The company was tapped by the province in 2009 to build a portion of the Western Alberta Transmission Line, one of four transmission projects the government identified as critical. The “critical” designation smoothes the way for regulatory approval of the lines.
AltaLink is expected to begin construction this year on a 500-kV, 66-km, $563.6-million line that will bring additional transmission from west of Edmonton—where several powerplants are located along a seam of coal — to north of the city, where an industrial hub is planned. The line is just a portion of the $14 billion worth of transmission capacity needed in the province over the next eight years to handle the increasing load from the oil-sands region and new wind farms, according to the government.
“AltaLink is a core investment for SNC-Lavalin. It has a proven track record, and we trust it will continue to provide excellent services to the people of Alberta,” said Gilles Laramée, executive vice president and chief financial officer of SNC-Lavalin Group Inc., in a statement. But company officials could not be reached to elaborate on the implications of the deal on the firm’s core business.