CDPQ and FTQ Take Full Ownership of Énergir
At Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), we invest constructively to generate sustainable returns over the long term. As a global investment group managing funds for public retirement and insurance plans, we work alongside our partners to build enterprises that drive performance and progress. We are active in the major financial markets, private equity, infrastructure, real estate and private debt. As at June 30, 2021, CDPQ’s net assets totalled CAD 390 billion. For more information, visit cdpq.com, follow us on Twitter or consult our Facebook or LinkedIn pages.
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The Fonds de solidarité FTQ invests to build a better society by channelling the savings of its 734,580 shareholders into development and risk capital investments to help Québec transition to a green economy, to a human-centred world of work, and to a healthier society. The Fonds offers businesses unsecured financing and strategic support. With $18.3 billion in net assets as at November 30, 2021, the Fonds has supported more than 3,400 partner companies and over 247,000 jobs.
Just to situate my readers, back in June of last year, Enbridge announced it agreed to sell its minority stake in Noverco for $1.14 billion:
Canadian pipeline operator Enbridge Inc (ENB.TO) said on Monday it has agreed to sell its minority stake in Noverco Inc to Trencap LP for $1.14 billion in cash.
Noverco indirectly owns Énergir LP, a distributor of natural gas.
Enbridge currently owns 38.9% of Noverco while Trencap, a consortium led by pension fund manager Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), owns the rest 61.1%.
RBC Capital Markets acted as financial adviser to Enbridge on the deal, which is expected to close by early 2022.
That deal closed at the end of last year:
Enbridge Inc. says the previously announced $1.14-billion deal to sell its stake in Noverco Inc. to a company controlled by the Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec has closed.
Trencap LP, which is majority owned by the Quebec pension fund manager, agreed to buy Enbridge’s 38.9 per cent stake in Noverco in June.
With the deal closed, Trencap now owns 100 per cent of Noverco and Energir, a Quebec-based natural gas and power distributor servicing the province and Vermont.
The Caisse owns 64.7 per cent of Trencap, along with partners, including the Quebec Federation of Labour’s Solidarity Fund.
Calgary-based Enbridge says the sale of its financial interest in Noverco strengthens its financial flexibility.
It says proceeds from the sale will initially be used to repay short term loans and support Enbridge’s secured capital program.
Why did CDPQ and FTQ wait till now to announce Énergir is entirely Québec-owned?
Who knows, it doesn't really matter if they waited a couple of weeks to make the announcement.
I suspect the deal closed smack in the middle of holiday season and they wanted to advertise it when the time is right to gain maximum exposure.
And it's worth highlighting this company is a really great asset for CDPQ and FTQ.
I covered this deal back in June when the announcement was made and you can read my comment here.
While Énergir is well known in Quebec for natural gas distribution, as the press release states, it's truly a diversified energy company:
With assets of over $9 billion and 535,000 customers across Québec and the northeastern United States, Énergir is a diversified energy business, with half of its assets now involved in the production and distribution of electricity and renewable energies and in providing energy services. The main distributor of natural gas in Québec, Énergir also produces electricity in the province from wind power through joint-venture companies. Through subsidiaries and other investments, Énergir is present in the United States, where it produces electricity from hydro, wind and solar sources, as well as being the sole distributor of natural gas in Vermont.
With the backing of CDPQ and FTQ, Énergir will look to grow its operations in North America and elsewhere.
It's worth noting, since its founding, Énergir has amassed extensive expertise which it has leveraged to find innovative, sustainable energy solutions to ensure a brighter energy future for today's and tomorrow’s generations:
The Québec Natural Gas Corporation, predecessor to Gaz Métro, is founded in 1955. However, it is not until April 25, 1957 that the Corporation’s senior management takes possession of the Hydro-Québec gas network. This becomes the company’s anniversary date.
Natural gas arrives in Québec on January 7, at 4 o’clock in the morning. In the beginning, it comes from Tennessee in the U.S. via Ontario. Some months later, in November, TransCanada Pipeline Limited builds a pipeline to distribute natural gas from Alberta.
Québec Natural Gas Corporation converts its manufactured gas system to natural gas, a cleaner and safer source of energy.
From November 21 to 23, the Corporation holds an open door to celebrate the arrival of natural gas and its new facilities. At the same time, it invites the public to see an exhibition of gas appliances. The event is a success and attracts 35,000 people. This period saw the company’s first publicity campaign. Several spokespersons extol the virtues of natural gas, including Janette Bertrand and Maurice Richard, who even becomes the owner of a gas appliance store that carries his name.
The Corporation teaches firefighters and police officers how to intervene in case of a leak or an explosion. This is the start of natural gas training.
Mercaptan is added to the natural gas. Safety is a priority for the company.
In the spring, the company extends the natural gas system to the South Shore of Montréal, where development is booming. Soon, natural gas is supplying residential and commercial customers in Saint-Lambert, La Prairie and Candiac. The towns of Contrecoeur, Tracy and Sorel are also supplied that same year.
The Régie de l'électricité et du gaz, forerunner of the Régie de l'énergie, is created.
Construction is begun on a new building at 1717 du Havre, on land that belongs to the Corporation, in the shadow of an old gasometer, In March, the relocation goes well, since the Frontenac metro station has just been inaugurated, facilitating access to work.
Natural gas is the energy of choice on the site of Expo 67. It is used in the restaurants, snack bars and the Terre des Hommes pavilions. The Corporation supplies 96% of the fuel, 90% of space heating and 82% of water heating.
Northern and Central Gas Company buys more than 65% of the capital stock of Québec Natural Gas Corporation. The company passes into the hands of Ontario shareholders.
The Québec National Gas Corporation changes its name to “Gaz Métropolitain” on October 4, 1969.
The natural gas liquefaction, storage and regasification (LSR) plant is inaugurated on October 7, 1969.
A second reservoir is inaugurated at the LSR plant and a new commercial customer is added – Société Radio-Canada – whose building will be heated by natural gas.
Head Office relocates downtown to a building at 1155 Dorchester Boulevard West, later renamed René-Lévesque Boulevard.
The word “Québec” is much in vogue and Gaz Métropolitain makes it the theme of its 1978 publicity campaign: “An associate of Québec for more than 20 years.” During this campaign, the company adopts orange as its colour to attract attention. From then on, the company makes every effort to be seen on the public scene.
Québec establishes an energy policy: “To provide for the future.” The policy helps stabilize demand for energy and significantly improves the natural gas supply situation.
On November 20, Gaz Métropolitain files a request with the Régie de l'électricité et du gaz du Québec with a view to obtaining exclusive distribution rights for natural gas throughout the province.
The company launches a publicity campaign on the theme “Natural gas: Reliable energy.”
The Company is one of the first to earn the francization certificate issued by the Office québécois de la langue française.
On March 12, the Québec government becomes a shareholder of Gaz Métropolitain and Gaz Inter-Cité Québec through the Société québécoise d'initiatives pétrolières (SOQUIP) and the Caisse de dépôt et de placement du Québec.
Gaz Métropolitain extends its territory and besides the Montréal area, now serves the towns of Saint-Jovite, Berthierville and Cowansville.
The other regions of Québec, except Saguenay-Lac St-Jean, are awarded to Gaz Inter-Cité. In May, the company inaugurates three operations centres to serve each of its new regions: Centre, South and North. Each region now has a development plan.
Gaz Métropolitain converts 350 vehicles in its fleet to natural gas.
1984Start of construction work on a new Head Office at 1717 du Havre. While awaiting the completion of the work, Gaz Métropolitain executives are based principally on the 32nd floor at 1155 Dorchester Boulevard.
Gaz Métropolitain declares revenue of more than $730 million and profits in the order of $33 million. Ranked 120th among large Canadian companies in terms of size, Gaz Métropolitain now ranks 90th in terms of returns.
Gaz Métropolitain acquires Gaz Inter-Cité Québec, serving eastern Québec, and Gaz Provincial du Nord, serving the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region.
In September, the Québec government establishes a new energy policy, which strengthens the position of Gaz Métropolitain since it favours the densification and expansion of the natural gas system, as well as the development of natural gas technologies.
From 1984 to 1989, a close working relationship is formed between Gaz Métropolitain and École Polytechnique. In 1988, Gaz Métropolitain gives $1.5 million to École Polytechnique to help the development of new, cutting-edge natural gas technologies.
Natural Gas Technologies Centre (NGTC) is created in April.
The Gaz Métropolitain Limited Partnership acquires 50% of Trans Québec & Maritimes Pipeline Inc.
With the support of Canada-Québec government infrastructure programs, the province’s gas networks are expanded by 1,184 kilometres.
Gaz Métropolitain obtains certification to ISO 14001 standard.
2003Gaz Métropolitain adopts a new image and a new logo. The company is now called : Gaz Métro.
2006Québec establishes a new energy policy that recognizes the key place of natural gas in the province’s energy portfolio and the importance of diversifying gas supplies for Québec.
Gaz Métro adopts a new Strategic Plan. Under this plan, the company aims to be recognized as a North American distributor of energy services and solutions, investing in targeted projects. In this vein, the company makes an offer to acquire an electricity distributor in Vermont.
Gaz Métro’s excellent record in quality improvement is recognized during the awarding of the Grands Prix québécois de la qualité, organized by the Ministry of Economic Development, Innovation and Export Trade and the Mouvement québécois de la qualité. The company is awarded the Grand Prix - Catégorie Grande entreprise de services, établissement ou filiale de grande entreprise.
Gaz Métro acquires Green Mountain Power.
Gaz Métro celebrates its 50th birthday.
Gaz Métro is acclaimed by the Carbon Disclosure Project for its disclosure efforts in respect to climate change.
Construction of 80, ruelle de l'Avenir – a first in Québec to combat high school drop-out in the Centre-Sud and Hochelaga-Maisonneuve districts.
The Boralex Consortium and Gaz Métro are awarded two wind-power projects with a total installed capacity of 272 MW under Hydro-Québec’s tender call.
Gaz Métro is named champion for a second time for disclosing its actions and achievements in respect to climate change.
The wind power projects at the Seigneurie de Beaupré obtain the environmental permits required to proceed.
Gaz Métro publishes its first report on sustainable development.
The Carbon Disclosure Project names Gaz Métro a champion for the third time for its transparency in respect to climate change.
Gaz Métro wins the Citizen of the Year 2009 award from the Prix québécois de l'entreprise for the realization of its seminal community project: 80, ruelle de l'Avenir.
Gaz Métro lauches a new Website dedicated to explain what is natural gas : www.AllAboutNaturalGas.com
Gaz Métro Strategic corporate reorganization:
- Creation of a new company: Valener Inc.
- All the publicly held units of Gaz Métro were exchanged, on a one-for-one basis, for common shares of Valener.
- Gaz Métro remains a Limited Partnership, but is now a private LP and is therefore no longer listed on an exchange.
- Former public unitholders of Gaz Métro retain, indirectly through Valener, their economic interest in Gaz Métro (approx 29 %).
- Valener is coted on the Toronto Stock Exchange under « VNR ».
Gaz Métro submits a brief on the sustainable development of shale gas to the Bureau des audiences publiques en environnement (BAPE).
Boralex and Gaz Métro Éole, a wholly owned subsidiary of Gaz Métro, acquire a third wind project of a capacity of 69 MW intended to the Seigneurie de Beaupré wind site.
Gaz Métro obtains the renewal of its exclusive right to distribute natural gas in Québec.
Gaz Métro’s Head Office obtains LEED CI, Silver Certification.
Gaz Métro announced that it is committed to contributing $150,000 over the next five years toward the construction of the new Montreal Children's Hospital of the McGill University Health Centre.
New markets emerge for liquefied natural gas.
Gaz Métro and Boralex work on developing the Seigneurie de Beaupré wind farms.
Gaz Métro acquires Central Vermont Public Service Corporation (CVPS).
CVPS merges with Green Mountain Power.
Gaz Métro pursues projects to extend the natural gas network.
Gaz Métro studies the Côte-Nord as a potential market.
Gaz Métro launches “The Blue Effect” ad campaign, which garners several awards for its visual and strategic merits.
Commission on Energy Issues in Québec takes place.
The liquefied natural gas market sees growing momentum.
Seigneurie de Beaupré Wind Farms 2 and 3 are commissioned.
Gaz Métro publishes the first sustainable development report in Québec, based on fourth-generation (G4) Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Guidelines.
Gaz Métro’s Rouyn-Noranda business office obtains LEED Canada NC 2009 certification from the Canada Green Building Council.
Why am I sharing the history of Énergir formerly known as Gaz Métro?
First, I find the history of this company fascinating, it's a true Quebec success story and more people should know about its history.
Second, by reading this history, you understand why Énergir is just as much part of the fabric of Quebec society as Hydro Québec.
And this helps explain part of the reason why why CDPQ and FTQ want to make this company entirely Québec-owned.
The other more important reason is Énergir is very profitable and has a very bright future as it will play a critical role in the energy transition economy.
This is an economy both CDPQ and FTQ are gearing up for and it makes perfect sense for them to own this Quebec jewel on behalf of all Quebecers.
One last note.
I was recently asked how come Canada's pensions aren't investing more in Canadian companies.
I was blunt and stated Canada's large pensions can invest more in Canada's economy but unlike CDPQ, they don't have a dual mandate.
More importantly, Canadian politicians have to do more to privatize large infrastructure projects to create the conditions that allow our large pensions to invest in airports, ports and toll roads in our country.
And I've said this before, Even though CDPQ has successfully fulfilled its dual mandate, it doesn't mean it's easy, nor does it mean that we should impose such a mandate on other large Canadian pensions.
Just remember, Canada's large pensions have a governance model that others can only dream of. We need to ensure political independence lies at the heart of their operations so they can continue delivering great long-term value add.
Can we create more opportunities for them to invest more in Canada?
You bet, especially in infrastructure, but our politicians will play a critical role if this is to take place.
The Canada Infrastructure Bank will also play a key role but first and foremost, we need to make sure there are large infrastructure projects to bid on as to attract the attention of our large pensions.
That takes political will and if you ask me, it's high time we privatize our ports, airports, and other infrastructure owned by the federal government.
Alright, let me wrap it up there.
Below, learn more about Énergir's vision and why this company will play a critical role in the energy transition economy.