Soros targets European utilities

The private equity business of George Soros has hired former Powergen chief executive Nick Baldwin to advise on opportunities in the European utilities sector.

Soros Private Equity, the private equity business of the US-Hungarian financier George Soros, is considering plans to step up its activity in the European utilities sector and has appointed Nick Baldwin to advise on opportunities.

Baldwin is the former chief executive of Powergen, leaving the company in 2002 after it was bought by German power group E.ON. Speaking to Reuters, Baldwin said he would be advising Soros Private Equity on “whether or not they want to be interested” in the sector.

News of the appointment follows Soros Private Equity’s reported interest in two UK power plants at Fiddler's Ferry and Ferrybridge. Last week, American Electric Power rejected a bid from British power generator International Power for the two stations, sources said. Soros is thought to have teamed up with Texas Pacific to bid for the stations, which were valued at £300 million (€434 million; $550 million).

Recent Soros Private Equity investments in Europe have focused on carve-outs of assets owned by European conglomerates, such as the PolymerLatex business acquired from Bayer for €235 million in March 2003.

The firm also joined Apollo Management and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners to invest $350 million for a majority stake in Cablecom, the Swiss cable television company, and the firm has also submitted unsuccessful bids for satellite operator Inmarsat and German publisher Bertelsmann Springer.