Fund managers enter race for John Laing renewables assets

13 March 2020 - 12:00 am UTC

Australian, European and Asian investors are weighing bidding for eight Australia wind and solar projects that John Laing owns.

Infrastructure investors from Australia, the UK and Korea are interested in bidding for John Laing’s portfolio of Australian renewable energy assets, according to sources.

Local fund managers AMP Capital, First Sentier, Palisade Investment Partners, Infrastructure Capital Group (ICG) and REST Super are all considering bidding, three of the sources said.

Foresight Group, a UK fund manager that owns five solar projects in Australia, is one European buyer interested and is seeking an adviser, said one of the sources. Another European investor is Dutch pension fund manager DIF.

Asian investors including Korean Infrastructure Asset Management Co. (KIAMCO) are also circling the upcoming auction, said two sources familiar with the Korean asset managers.

They join China Resources and State Development and Investment Corporation, which are planning to bid when the auction kicks off in the second quarter.

Bidders have shown an initial interest in the portfolio of eight wind and solar farms, despite the coronavirus outbreak. Financial adviser Macquarie Capital is pitching the business to numerous buyers in Asia, said one of the sources, but the pandemic could constrain their ability to travel to Australia to conduct due diligence on the assets.

The sale process has been moving slowly because financial adviser Macquarie is restructuring the debt linked to troubled solar projects Sunraysia and Finley.

All eight assets will be operational when the sales process starts, according to a teaser for the sale, codenamed Project Goliath, that SparkSpread has seen. John Laing’s 57 MW Cherry Tree wind farm began sending power to the Victoria grid earlier this month and is now going through final tests before commissioning.

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