May 2, 2014 / 3:48 PM / 3 years ago

SNC Lavalin shares surge after C$3.2 bln AltaLink asset sale

TORONTO, May 2 (Reuters) - SNC-Lavalin Group Inc’s shares surged on Friday after it said late Thursday it is selling its transmission asset, AltaLink, to Berkshire Hathaway Inc’s energy unit for about C$3.2 billion ($2.92 billion) in cash.

Shares of SNC, one of the world’s largest engineering and construction firms, jumped nearly 10 percent in early trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

A number of analysts raised their price targets and ratings on SNC following the deal, which also includes an arrangement with Berkshire Hathaway Energy subsidiary MidAmerican Transmission to develop engineering, procurement and construction opportunities in the United States and Canada.

“SNC and Berkshire in the same sentence, that ... has to be worth C$1 billion in future potential collaborations,” Dundee Securities analyst Maxim Sytchev told clients in a note.

“That’s the part we believe long-term investors should very much appreciate ... SNC was looking for a stepping stone into the U.S. and we fail to see a more blue-chip partner than Berkshire.”

SNC had previously said that 2014 would be a year of rebuilding and consolidation, and that it was expecting to make “strategic acquisitions” to support its growth strategy, but executives have declined to provide details, including any timeline for potential acquisitions.

Sytchev, noting the deal translated to an estimated C$18.75 to C$19.40 per SNC share, said his AltaLink valuation of C$15.47 a share was already aggressive relative to consensus.

Alberta-based AltaLink, the province’s largest regulated electricity transmission company, will continue to operate as a separate company under Berkshire Hathaway Energy, the companies said.

SNC had said in September it was looking to sell its equity stake in AltaLink as part of its strategic plan to trim ownership of infrastructure investments and monetize assets.

AltaLink, whose assets include 280 substations and about 12,000 km (7,500 miles) of transmission lines, serves about 85 percent of Alberta’s population and reported revenue of C$534.1 million ($486.63 million) in 2013.

The deal is expected to close by the end of this year.

SNC shares were up 6.4 percent at C$52.78 in late morning trading.

$1 = 1.0976 Canadian Dollars Reporting by Solarina Ho; Editing by James Dalgleish

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