- This is how Marín Quemada lost his pulse at the CNMC to lower the gas bill
The step back of the National Commission of Markets and Competition (CNMC) in the cut to regulated revenues of the gas distribution business will be detrimental to the consumer's receipt but a relief in the financial perspectives of large energy companies in the country and, above all, in the energy giant Naturgy.
The company chaired by Francisco Reynés will save a total cut of 149 million euros between 2021 and 2026 , which is the difference between the adjustment projected by the regulator in July and the rectified figure of last November.
This is the figure that circulates in several reports of analysts and investment banks distributed this week to private clients and to which EL MUNDO has had access. Naturgy was the company most threatened by the 18% cut in regulated revenues proposed by the CNMC. The company has carried out in recent months an intense campaign to convince the regulator and the Government that a cut of that caliber would jeopardize gas investments as a backup for renewables in Spain and, consequently, the energy transition. Within that pressure the group paralyzed its growth in the country and sent home all the employees of its subsidiary Nedgia, in which it participates with the Canadian investment fund.
The gas sector campaign took effect and the majority of the CNMC council decided to take down the proposal made by the Energy Directorate of the regulator, which had been endorsed both publicly and privately by the president of the agency, José María Marín Quemada , for the positive effect it would have on consumers. Finally, the cut included in the new draft circular that is now subject to the allegations of the sector will be 9.6% , half of the initial.
In the latest version of the text, the cut distributed between 2021 and 2026 for the whole sector amounts to 239 million euros, compared to the 455 million initially planned. In the specific case of Naturgy, the adjustment would go from 315 to 166 million euros.
But investors warn that despite the smoothing of the adjustment, the damage to the image of regulatory stability in the country is already done. In this sense, if Naturgy will save on the one hand part of the cost of the cut projected by the CNMC, the company will be penalized its options to sell part of the assets to potential investors to make cash. And if it does, it will have to be at a much lower price.
"The high regulatory risk has been highly exhibited by the CNMC, the cut lacks a solid justification from the regulator, in our opinion; and reduces visibility over the next regulatory period, starting in 2027," explains Santander Bank.
The bank that presides over Ana Botín and the French Credit Suisse recommend in their latest reports to sell shares of the gas group due to the uncertainty about their regulated business and the weak prospects for the electricity generation and gas trading business. The group's shares were trading yesterday at 22.74 euros, with an increase of 2% so far this year. Since the first draft of the cut in July was known, the company's price accumulates a crash of 8.7%.
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