An investigation into the sale of part of Dong Energy A/S to Goldman Sachs puts an end to a number of conspiracy theories that have surrounded the process in recent years, according to the chief executive officer of the Danish utility.
Though the report found that the Danish finance ministry was sloppy in its documentation of the sales process, it didn’t provide support for critics of the sale who have argued that Goldman paid too little for its stake in Dong.
The investigation, which was carried out by Denmark’s Public Accounts Committee, “punctures the myths surrounding Dong Energy that have arisen in the aftermath of the capital injection and the company’s initial public offering,” Dong CEO Henrik Poulsen said in a comment sent via email to Bloomberg. “We now look forward to being able to put the speculation and conspiracies behind us.”
Goldman paid 8 billion kroner ($1.2 billion) for an 18 percent stake in 2014, a figure that several lawmakers said at the time was too low. The Socialist People’s Party, which was a junior member of the Social Democrat-led coalition that ruled at the time, quit the government in protest over the deal. Political criticism continued when about a fifth of Dong was sold to the public last year, in an initial public offering that valued it at 98 billion kroner.
Goldman’s ownership of Dong has been fraught with political tension from the get-go. The state-owned utility asked the government for help in 2013 after it lost money on failed bets on natural gas contracts. When the ruling coalition at the time revealed it had invited the Wall Street firm to become one of three new investors to shore up Dong’s capital, it triggered street protests, with a former prime minister characterizing the deal as scandalous. A majority in parliament eventually pushed the bill through, allowing Goldman to become an owner.
Goldman has since reduced its stake. New Energy Investment S.a.r.l., the unit through which Goldman’s merchant banking division holds its Dong shares, now owns about 4.5 percent of the Danish company.
Since the IPO, Dong shares have gained about 17 percent, valuing the company at roughly 116 billion kroner. The shares were little changed on Thursday morning, trading at about 276 kroner a piece.