The venerable German Thyssengas, founded in 1921 by the Thyssen steel company to deliver gas to cities within the Ruhr area and now Germany's second-largest pipeline operator, has been sold to the Australian investment bank Macquarie Asset Management. Macquarie had previously owned Thyssengas from 2011 to 2016 before its sale to French energy giant EDF and the Dutch private market fund manager DIF. Sources put the value of the sale at € 1.2 billion.
With lingering questions in Europe concerning the fate of natural gas with fossil fuels being phased out and stronger governmental emissions legislation, some observers have questioned whether such an investment is sensible. But Macquarie views the pipeline transportation business as favorable, with European legislators taking decisive action to back climate-friendly hydrogen as the preferred fuel for the future. Macquarie also sees an advantage in having Thyssen's gas pipelines with locked-in customers which stand to gain from investment in and conversion to hydrogen.
According to Reuters, hydrogen is gaining traction to replace gas as policymakers seek to combine recovery from COVID-19 impact with an accelerated shift to green fuel. If hydrogen is produced using renewable energy, it is emissions-free and can help industrial processes to decarbonize.
"Given limited renewable energy resources and extensive connectivity to the gas grid, climate-friendly gases such as low-carbon hydrogen are an attractive alternative," Macquarie Managing Director Hilko Schomerus said in a statement.
"This is an opportunity to make Thyssengas' grid fit for the future," Schomerus said, and thus begins the newest chapter in the company's history.