AES Case

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Evaluating the Historical Capital Budgeting Method

Currently AES employs Project Finance Framework. Project finance tends to be used in projects with tangible assets with predictable cash flows in which construction and operating targets can be easily established through explicit contract.
The key to AES projects financing lies with the precise forecasting of cash flows. In effect, the possibility of estimating cash flows with an acceptable level of uncertainty allows for allocation of risks among various interested parties. The ensuing certainty in cash flows allows for high level of leverage and enables project assets to be separated from the parent company.
Let us now take a
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Does this system make sense?

The financial strategy employed by AES was historically based on project finance. This approach solely took into account those factors that minimized AES exposure to the project and achieved the most beneficial regulatory treatment thus ensuring availability of financial resources to complete the project. The model worked well for the domestic market as well as for the international operations, provided the opportunities undertook by AES were either in the sector of building and running a power plant or simply buying an existing facility and upgrading it and then operating. The underlying assumption over here was that the symmetrical and asymmetrical risks faced by the project were more or less same irrespective of its geographical location (Refer to Exhibit 3). However when AES started diversifying the breadth of its operations by incorporating other offshoots of energy related business and transforming from a cogeneration to a more utility organization with majority of expansion occurring in developing economies. This diversification of business increased the symmetrical risks like business risk, a classic example of which we see in Brazil where AES experience shortfall in demand /sales volume due to Energy Conservation Policy of Brazilian government and this had a chain effect on debt servicing capacity of the SPV as well the
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