ČEZ Group has agreed to acquire a controlling stake in GasNet Group, a Czech Republic-based gas distribution infrastructure operator, for €846.5m.

The transaction involves ČEZ Group acquiring a 55.21% stake in Czech Gas Networks. The latter holds full ownership of Czech Gas Networks Investments, the parent company of Czech Grid, which ultimately owns GasNet and GasNet Služby.

Macquarie Asset Management is the seller of the stake, acting on behalf of managed funds.

The GasNet Group manages a network spanning 65,000km of gas pipelines and holds an approximate 80% market share in natural gas distribution across the Czech Republic. It serves roughly 2.3 million consumption points and distributes 66TWh of gas annually across all the regions of the Czech Republic with the exception of Prague and the South Bohemia Region.

According to the ČEZ Group, natural gas, and later hydrogen, are poised to play pivotal roles in the future development of the Czech economy.

Through this acquisition, ČEZ Group is securing a strategic position in the Czech heat generation industry`s transformation away from coal-powered energy towards natural gas and, subsequently, hydrogen.

Furthermore, the Czech energy conglomerate fulfills its business plan in the gas distribution sector, a crucial aspect of the ČEZ Business Concept ratified at the company`s general meeting.

ČEZ Group CEO and management board chairman Daniel Beneš said: “ČEZ has announced an extensive energy modernisation initiative, with ambitious goals in green and low-emission energy for 2030 as part of its Clean Energy for Tomorrow strategy.

“In the realm of power generation, we focus on renewable resources and nuclear power; in the heat and power generation sector, on biomass and natural gas, which will be serving as a transitional fuel for the energy transformation.

“We’ve already acquired a significant capacity in two liquified gas terminals in Germany and the Netherlands, and this acquisition of the country’s largest gas distribution system operator will further strengthen our position within the gas market.”

The group plans to finance the purchase price through a bridge loan provided by a consortium of commercial banks, with subsequent refinancing facilitated through the bond market.

The completion of the transaction hinges on approvals from both the European Commission and the Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade.