Bloomberg News

Coller Capital Targets $40 Million of Wind, Solar Power Deals

March 29, 2012

The former private equity unit of Credit Agricole SA (ACA) said it’s considering as much as 30 million euros ($40 million) of Italian wind and French solar and hydropower deals.

Capenergie 2, a renewable energy fund, may invest more than 10 million euros in an Italian wind farm developer, as well as take a majority stake in a wind farm, said Serge Savasta, head of renewable energy at the unit that changed its name to Omnes Capital after its takeover by Coller Capital Ltd. in December.

“We are also looking at deals in northern Europe and we’re preparing for the renewal of the French mini-hydro concessions,” Savasta said in a phone interview. “This will be an opportunity to acquire assets, so we will be part of this with other French and European companies.”

France is aiming to get 23 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. Savasta is seeking to tap the French market again after recent regulatory issues, while the dawn of grid parity, where the cost of alternative energy becomes equal to or less than purchasing electricity from the grid, will also bolster the market.

“There are good deals in neighboring European countries for medium-term investments because, whatever the regulations, we are getting closer and closer to grid parity,” Savasta said.

France in December 2010 suspended solar-energy projects for three months after a boom in installations. The government in March last year cut subsidies for the power by 20 percent and capped annual installed capacity. Tenders are now held for solar installations of more than 100 kilowatts.

Solar Tender

Capenergie, which so far has raised 122 million euros out of a 200 million-euro target, is also expecting to succeed in a French solar tender, said Savasta. It submitted almost 100 megawatts of ground-mounted solar projects with a French panel maker and a project developer. Investment is expected to be 5 million to 10 million euros.

The fund has a dual investment strategy, he said. It invests minority capital for four to five years in companies that develop or build assets. When the company requires additional money to pay for projects, Capenergie then takes a majority equity stake, he said.

For Capenergie 1, which raised 109 million euros, about 70 percent was invested in France and the rest in Europe. While Capenergie 2 follows the same investment strategy, the bank plans to invest 50 percent in France and the remainder in Europe. It’s already invested 50 million euros in seven companies operating 100 megawatts, Savasta said. Three of these were in France, two in Germany and two in Belgium.

The unit plans to complete fundraising for Capenergie 2 by June. Once all the money has been invested, expected to take place in 2014, it will consider another fund.

“It’s definitely our wish to carry on our funds in clean energy and we would definitely love to see a Capenergie 3 in two years time,” said Savasta. “It will be bigger than our current fund, but not too large, as we focus on small to medium-sized companies.”

Capenergie 2 invested in German solar power company Abakus Solar AG in January and in March last year it directed money into Belgian solar company Ikaros Solar SA.

To contact the reporter responsible for this story: Louise Downing in London at Ldowning4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg in London at landberg@bloomberg.net


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