Budgeting at Aes

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REV: OCTOBER 23, 2006




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 need more than his considerable daily dose of caffeine to

point himself in the right direction.


Much of AES’s expansion had taken place in developing markets where the unmet demand for

energy far exceeded that of more developed countries. By 2000, the majority of AES revenues came

from overseas operations; approximately one-third came from South America alone. Once a critical

element in its recipe for success, the company’s international exposure hurt AES during the global

economic downturn that began in late 2000. A confluence of factors including the devaluation of key

South American currencies, adverse changes in energy regulatory environments, and declines in

energy commodity prices conspired to weaken cash flow at AES subsidiaries and hinder the

company’s ability to service subsidiary and parent-level debt. As earnings and cash distributions to

the parent started to deteriorate, AES stock collapsed and its market capitalization fell nearly 95%

from $28 billion in December 2000 to $1.6 billion just two years later.


As one part of its response to the financial crisis, AES leadership created the Corporate Analysis &

Planning group in order to address current and future strategic and financial challenges. To...