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Russell K. Girling, President and CEO of TransCanada meets with the Globe and Mail editorial board on May 13, 2014.Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

TransCanada Corp. has the won rights to develop and operate a natural gas pipeline in central Mexico, beating a subsidiary of Sempra Energy that was disqualified from bidding.

TransCanada unit Transportadora de Gas Natural de la Huasteca won the auction with a bid of $336-million, the lowest of three companies that participated, state-owned utility Comision Federal de Electricidad or CFE said Friday. The Calgary-based pipeline owner, which recently announced plans to sell as much as 49 per cent of its Mexican assets, now has six projects in the country.

CFE disqualified a bid from Infraestructura Energetica Nova SA, a Sempra unit known as Ienova. It was the third time since March 16 that an Ienova bid was thrown out for failing to meet requirements to operate the pipeline.

Ienova, Mexico's only publicly traded energy company, has fallen 4 per cent this year. The faulty bids may raise doubt over its ability to win new projects and meet growth targets, according to a March 30 research note led by Barclays PLC analyst Pablo Monsivais.

The 420-kilometre pipeline will supply gas to CFE's power plants in the central states of Hidalgo and San Luis Potosi. The project is expected to begin operation in January 2018, according to CFE.

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