Total has acquired a 20 per cent stake in Adani Green Energy in a $2.5bn deal that deepens the French energy major’s renewables push and its relationship with Indian tycoon Gautam Adani’s empire.
The investment announced on Monday was at a nearly 40 per cent discount based on Adani Green’s Rs1.5tn ($20bn) market capitalisation. It also grants the French group a 50 per cent share in a 2.35-gigawatt portfolio of solar assets and gives it a seat on the company’s board.
Total is expanding its presence in India through its strategic partnership with Mr Adani, one of the country’s most powerful businessmen whose infrastructure conglomerate spans ports to coal-fired power plants.
“Given the size of the market, India is the right place to put into action our energy transition strategy based on two pillars: renewables and natural gas,” said Total’s chief executive Patrick Pouyanné.
Mr Adani has pledged to build the world’s largest solar power company by 2025. Adani Green has more than 14.6GW of contracted renewable capacity.
International oil groups — from Total and BP to Saudi Aramco — have been heavily courting Indian partners for a foothold in the fast-growing energy market. They are seeking both to lock in demand for fossil fuels as consumption in other parts of the world stagnates and to help the country with its transition to cleaner fuels.
Total and Adani in 2018 announced a joint venture to develop a gas retail network and gas terminals.
“We are delighted to deepen our strategic alliance with Total,” Mr Adani said on Monday. “We have a shared vision of developing renewable power at affordable prices to enable a sustainable energy transformation in India.”
India’s prime minister Narendra Modi has set out ambitious targets for renewables and gas, with the goal of the country to get 175GW of its energy from renewables by 2022.
Mr Modi has also outlined plans to increase the share of natural gas in the energy mix from 6 per cent to 15 per cent by 2030.
Oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan said in December that the government expected to invest $66bn to develop gas infrastructure, including pipelines and city gas distribution, but did not give a timeline for the investment.
Total has in recent days announced a string of announcements related to the energy transition. It has left the most powerful US oil lobby group, the American Petroleum Institute, citing concerns about its position on climate change. The company has also formed a joint venture for solar and energy storage projects in the US.
International investors are pushing into India’s renewable projects because they offer higher returns due to rising demand, said Tim Buckley, analyst at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis in Australia.
Many of the renewables projects, including some of the Adani Group’s, benefit from nearly 25-year power purchase agreements with national and regional electricity distributors at a fixed rate, he added.
KKR, the New York-based investment group, in October launched a renewable energy platform in India called Virescent Infrastructure, while Canadian pension fund CDPQ bought a 50 per cent stake in solar developer Azure Power earlier last year.
“All of a sudden this foreign global capital is deploying at unprecedented levels and it’s because of the return differentials,” said Mr Buckley. “These projects have really powerful return profiles.”
Additional reporting by Hudson Lockett in Hong Kong