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Canadian pension fund reviews options for Spain's Eolia, sources say

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By Isla Binnie

MADRID (Reuters) - Canadian pension fund Alberta Investment Management Corp (AIMCo) has begun a strategic review of Spanish renewable energy firm Eolia, which could lead to a possible sale, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

AIMCo has hired advisers to decide on strategic options for the business that operates around 860 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy generation capacity in Spain, the sources said on condition of anonymity because the matter is confidential.

AIMCo declined to comment.

The Edmonton-based pension fund, with roughly $119 billion of assets under management, bought Eolia in 2019 for around 1.4 billion euros ($1.7 billion) including debt and is considering capitalising on growing investor appetite for renewable energy assets in Southern Europe.

The price of any deal could now be nearly 2 billion euros, based on the valuation of 2 million euros per megawatt implied by the price AIMCo paid for the firm.

Since then, investor interest has increased in companies involved in generating carbon-free power from renewable sources, in many cases pushing market valuations far above their earnings.

"There's a bit of a gold rush going on in Spain," one of the sources said.

Under AIMCo's ownership, Eolia's portfolio has added almost 200MW of renewable energy generation capacity in Spain and has further projects of at least one gigawatt in wind and solar in its pipeline, one of the sources said.

A large chunk of Eolia's assets was built under previous Spanish regulations that still guarantee a fixed long-term rate for the power they generate.

AIMCo, which runs a portfolio of low-carbon infrastructure and renewable resources assets worth $3.7 billion, may not proceed with a transaction, and could instead end up arranging a financing deal, one of the sources said.

Fellow Canadian buyer Northland Power made its first foray into Spanish renewables last month, with a deal to buy regulated wind farms and solar parks.

(Reporting by Isla Binnie,; Additional reporting by Maiya Keidan in Toronto; Editing by Pamela Barbaglia and Barbara Lewis)

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