Wednesday 26 October 2016

Airtricity founder O'Connor aims to float Mainstream in 2018

Published 08/05/2016 | 02:30

Eddie O'Connor, Chief Executive of Mainstream Renewable Power Photo: Tom Burke
Eddie O'Connor, Chief Executive of Mainstream Renewable Power Photo: Tom Burke

Eddie O'Connor wants to float Mainstream Renewable Power on the stock market by the end of 2018.

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The company swung to an after-tax profit of €96m last year after losing almost €50m in 2014, and is now looking to raise at least €100m in equity, saying that there has been an "indication of a significant level of appetite to become part of the Mainstream growth story from third-party institutional and strategic investors.

"I think 2018 would seem to be to be a reasonable time to pitch a flotation. We'd be catholic about when the company goes. If the price is right, well then you'd consider whatever. But currently our thinking would be that we access the capital markets. This is a very very hungry business for cash," O'Connor, who founded Airtricity and is Mainstream's co-founder and chief executive, told the Sunday Independent.

The business has long been mulling a stock market flotation but delayed the plan as it went through a restructuring process that saw the business realigned to focus on developing markets. Last year, the company sold an offshore project for £82.9m.

It has not guided a price to potential equity investors, O'Connor said. PJT Partners has been tasked with leading the process.

"We've talked about raising this equity money, and €100m has been mentioned. If somebody came in and offered us €200m, we would say we could accelerate... we would welcome that," O'Connor said.

The company said it aims to have 1,000 megawatts (MW) of assets under construction this year.

It said three projects in South Africa are under construction and have been transferred to a joint venture with investment company Actis, triggering a cash payment of €28m.

Another joint venture in Chile has been awarded contracts to build and operate wind projects of 300MW.

O'Connor said the company's revenues for 2016 will "by and large" be driven by the successful completion of projects in its pipeline.

Last year, Mainstream won contracts for 1,250 megawatts of projects, O'Connor said.

"We're going to enter in to a number of other competitions. That 1,000 [that the company aims to have under construction this year] won't be all that we've won. We'll still have to build or sell another 250 megawatts from what was won last year.

"We anticipate winning the same, or possibly a lot more, of what was won last year. There are auctions coming up.

"It's not as if you live from hand to mouth, very few people would have the quality of projects that we have."

Sunday Indo Business

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