Bottleneck in transmission is opportunity, says CEO of Sterlite
Indian group has invested more than BRL 3.3 billion in less than five years in the Brazilian market
By Robson Rodrigues — From São Paulo
With less than five years of operation in the country and more than BRL 3.3 billion invested, the Indian company Sterlite Power has created in the national market an image of aggressiveness, buying and selling transmission assets, participating in auctions with strong discount and debunking giants already consolidated here.
And despite this stance that has become its trademark in Brazil, the company’s global president, Pratik Agarwal, rejects this aggressiveness. However, under his management, it is worth remembering that the company grew from a USD 150 million-project in 2010 to a development of 23 projects in India and Brazil, worth USD 5.6 billion. In an interview to Valor, he said he only considers that the company takes advantage of the possibilities that are emerging.
The story, however, shows that the transmission company has been taking over the scene on the auctions. In the last one, the company won lot 2 per Annual Allowed Revenue (RAP) of BRL 7.093 million, which corresponds to a discount of more than 66%. The average of the winners was 50% in relation to the one defined in the notice.
The Indian company had ten assets in the portfolio and even shoed intention to enter the distribution segment butdecided to slow down by restructuring the portfolio and divest some assets. “I don’t believe we have an aggressive strategy. All the projects we participated in were executed in extended time by us and, in some cases, by partners. The company takes advantage of some good price opportunities. We sell some projects to reinvest capital in new projects,” says Agarwal.
The goal is to grow with sustainability in the national market. Agarwal says Brazil is the company’s main market outside India with great potential to strengthen business. “We are satisfied in Brazil and attentive to the possibilities of expanding our activities in this market of concessions in transmission. We are growing, not as fast as in 2018, and we will take advantage of the opportunities given by market conditions”, he says.
The executive highlights the interest in Brazil due to the regulatory security, good financing conditions, long-term contracts, and the country has an important position on the climate change scenario. “We believe that Brazil is an important and strategic country in the global energy transition and in this context of growing demand for renewable energies in which Brazil is a world leader,” he says. For him, the growth of renewable energies will increasingly require transmission projects to drain production to places of consumption.
Brazil is going through a disability in transmission sector. According to information from the ONS (National System Operator), the Brazilian electricity system may face bottlenecks in the coming years if the growth of the generation of renewable sources is not accompanied by investments in transmission. “If you ask the CEOs of the major renewable energy companies, they will say that the challenge is in transmission,” he says. In this context, Agarwal sees an opportunity to expand the business. He is very optimistic and bets that the demand for energy in Brazil should grow and this will be the “chance to increase wind and solar energy capacity” with the transmission sector as a route for the flow of this energy.
Today the company has seven power transmission projects, which add up to 1,400 kilometers long. The strategy for the future involves participating in new government auctions or acquiring new assets. For 2022, the Indian CEO forecasts a capex of BRL 1.1 billion. Most of the funding for investments should be done via equity.
Thymos’ Strategic-Financial Manager, André Fonseca, says the company’s strategy was bold in picking up challenging ventures and has now adapted its market performance proposal. “Sterlite has full technical capability to run its pipeline. It may have been aggressive about the amount of asset it took at once. Now the company has shown responsibility for selling some assets and reducing the risk of execution, as projects are highly leveraged.”