Globalizing the Cost of Capital and Capital Budgeting at Aes?

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REV: OCTOBER 23, 2006

MIHIR DESAI

Globalizing the Cost of Capital and Capital Budgeting at AES
In June 2003, Rob Venerus, director of the newly created Corporate Analysis & Planning group at The AES Corporation, thumbed through the five-inch stack of financial results from subsidiaries and considered the breadth and scale of AES. In the 12 years since it had gone public, AES had become a leading independent supplier of electricity in the world with more than $33 billion in assets stretched across 30 countries and 5 continents. Venerus now faced the daunting task of creating a methodology for calculating costs of capital for valuation and capital budgeting at AES businesses in diverse locations around the world. He would
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The willingness of international development banks to invest alongside AES in volatile parts of the world helped mitigate the risk of expropriation, and the increased breadth of the global financial markets provided greater access to capital. AES initiated its international expansion in 1991–1992 with the purchase of two plants in Northern Ireland. The following year, AES began what would become a massive expansion into Latin America with the acquisition of the San Nicolas generation facility in Buenos Aires, Argentina. A year later, AES created a separately listed subsidiary, AES China Generating Co., to advance Chinese development projects. As the pace of deregulation quickened around the world, AES was presented with an abundant supply of capital and a wealth of opportunities for investments in energy-related businesses, some of which were more complex than AES’ portfolio of contract generation projects. In addition to expanding its line of business profile, it continued its geographic expansion and between 1996 and 1998 the company acquired several large utility companies in Brazil, El Salvador, and Argentina. By this time the company was spending an estimated 80%–85% of its capital investment overseas in places as diverse as Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Cameroon, The Dominican Republic, Georgia, Hungary, India, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Mexico, Pakistan, Panama, Puerto Rico, Ukraine, The United Kingdom,

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