Italy’s largest pipeline firm continues push into hydrogen tech

By Tommaso Ebhardt and Jan-Henrik Förster on 11/19/2020

(Bloomberg) --Italy’s Snam SpA agreed to buy 33% of electrochemical tech firm Industrie De Nora SpA as part of its expansion into the hydrogen business.

Europe’s largest gas pipeline company is purchasing a minority stake in the Italian designer, manufacturer and supplier of electrode and water technology from Blackstone Group Inc., confirming an earlier report by Bloomberg News. De Nora is valued at 1.2 billion euros ($1.4 billion) including debt.

The accord is part of Snam Chief Executive Officer Marco Alvera’s push into the technology after the European Union put hydrogen at the heart of measures to cut greenhouse gases and reach climate-neutrality by 2050.

“We see a lot of potential for De Nora to continue to grow, and hydrogen allows that growth to further accelerate,” Alvera said on a call with analysts.

Hydrogen, if made with renewables, could replace coal, oil, and eventually natural gas, and help eliminate about a third of emissions from industries like steel and cement by mid-century, according to Bloomberg NEF.

De Nora is not Snam’s first move into hydrogen. The company agreed last month to invest in ITM Power Plc, which produces electrolyzers, a crucial component in hydrogen technology. It also has a partnership with state rail company Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane SpA for hydrogen-powered train technology.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. estimates that the hydrogen market could be worth 10 trillion euros by 2050 globally for utilities alone.

“Our investment in De Nora builds on Blackstone’s successful history of supporting entrepreneurial family businesses to achieve their goals,” said Andrea Valeri, senior managing director and chairman of Blackstone Italy.

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