The Norwegian-Philippine company put down a bid of US$325M for the Ambuklao and Binga hydropower plants against the only other offer, from Calaca Power Partners which tendered US$305M.

SN Aboitiz Power Hydro was incorporated in March and is majority owned by Manila-Olso Renewable Enterprise Inc, the remaining 40% being held by SN Power Holding Singapore Pte Ltd.

SN Power said today that the successful highest bid, placed through its joint venture company, positions it as the largest private sector hydropower player in the Philippines. It added that in three years it expects to have increased the capacity of the plants by 20%-30%.

First Gen Hydro Power Corp, the third shortlisted bidder which previously won a hydropower auction, did not make a final bid. The firm recently won a majority stake in an oil company privatisation. Last year, it bought the 112MW Pantabangan-Masiway hydropower plants with a bid of US$129M.

The Philippines privatisation agency, Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp (Psalm), did not disclose the reserve price for the auction of the 75MW Ambuklao and 100MW Binga hydropower plants. The formalities of bid checks have to be completed before the result of the auction confirms the winner, and SN Power said it hoped the process will see confirmation of its JV’s offer later this year.

In December 2006, SN Aboitiz Power bought the 360MW Magat hydropower plant at auction for a bid of US$530M.

SN Power, or Statkraft Norfund Power Invest AS, was set up in 2002 and is a JV company registered in Norway and held equally by the utility Statkraft and investor Norfund.

The auction of the Ambuklao-Binga plants did not require power supply contracts to be attached to the sale as the schemes are only operated seasonally when there is sufficient stored water. The Ambuklao plant was built in 1956 and has three 25MW units that have been under preservation by the National Power Corp for the last seven years. Its waters help to regulate flows at Bingam which was built in 1960 and has four 25MW units.

Under the terms of the auction, the winning bidder will have to rehabilitate the Ambuklao plant and ensure at least 65MW of operational capacity within seven years.