ICG in talks to acquire Bright Acre Energy

07 March 2019 - 12:00 am UTC

Infrastructure Capital Group is in exclusive talks to acquire five solar farms with combined capacity of 400MW that developer Wirsol was planning to float last year, Inframation has learned.

Several sources familiar with the matter said the fund manager had been in discussions with Wirsol since late last year after the IPO had stalled. 

Late in 2017, Wirsol packaged up Clermont, Wemen, Gannawarra, Hamilton and Whitsunday solar plants as Bright Acre Energy to list in 2018.

All have financing and were either completed or close to generating power. Global market volatility and the collapse of contractor RCR Tomlinson last November contributed to the decision to pull the float. RCR was building three of Bright Acre’s generators – Gannawarra, Wemen and Clermont.

Another factor at play was a slowdown by the Australian Energy Market Operator in approving network connections and limits it was placing on the output of solar farms due to grid constraints.

Gannawarra is complete and supplying power to the grid, as is a 25MW battery built alongside it that is owned 50.01% by Edify Energy and 49.9% by Wirsol. Edify retains small stakes in the Gannawarra, Hamilton and Whitsunday plants.

Wemen was in commissioning phase when RCR went into administration. It is connected to the grid and supplying power, but at the moment is not expected to be fully operational until December, according to Wirsol’s website.

It is unclear what the status of Clermont is, although local media reports said work stopped on that project along with many others RCR had in train in November.

Sources said ICG is the only investor in talks with Wirsol. But it is understood the fund manager would not be prepared to buy the plants before they are completed so any deal may still be some way off. One source has previously suggested it could take until the end of the year.

It is uncertain what value the plants may be sold for. The IPO, which was managed by UBS, NAB and Blue Ocean Equities, was being touted at values above the New Energy Solar float in November 2017, which raised AUD 200m

Various fund and advisers sources that had looked at the Bright Acre assets argued price expectations were too high, however.

ICG and Wirsol have not returned calls for comment.

As reported, one of Bright Acre Energy’s development sites, the proposed 120MW Bomen solar farm – which is listed as a project in Bright Acre’s upcoming pipeline – is being sold by Wirsol related developer Renew Estate. Wirsol is its largest shareholder.

 

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