National Grid said it had sold a 61 per cent equity interest in its NG Gas Distribution to a consortium of investors called the Quad Gas Group.
As part of the deal, National Grid will return £4bn to shareholders through the combination of a special dividend and share buybacks. It has also agreed to pay out £150m to energy consumers.
CIC Capital, a wholly-owned subsidiary of China's sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority and Australian investment bank Macquarie were among the buyers, alongside Allianz Capital Partners, Hermes Investment Management, Amber Infrastructure and Dalmore Capital.
RBC Capital Markets acted as joint advisers to the Quad Gas Group. Robey Warshaw, Barclays and Morgan Stanley were financial advisers to National Grid.
City A.M. understands two other consortia – one including Chinese conglomerate Fosun, and another involving China Resources Gas – were still in the running until late last night.
Another group of investors, led by Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka Shing, dropped out of the race for the highly-coveted asset.
The consortium has hinted that it may buy another 14 per cent of the business - although Whitehall officials are keeping an eye on developments, with the government determined to ensure foreign takeovers are in the “national interest”.
Shares in National Grid were up 1.9 per cent at 926.7p in early trading.