Business Irish

Saturday 3 December 2016

Amarenco raising up to €200m in wind and solar push

Published 11/08/2016 | 02:30

Amarenco chief executive John Mullins pictured outside Dublin’s Gresham Hotel. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Amarenco chief executive John Mullins pictured outside Dublin’s Gresham Hotel. Photo: Caroline Quinn

Irish solar energy firm Amarenco is tapping investors for up to €200m in equity to fund the development of solar farms in France and to fuel windfarm acquisitions.

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Amarenco chief executive John Mullins - the former boss of Bord Gáis - told the Irish Independent that the firm has already sized up some potential windfarm purchases .

Mr Mullins, inset, said that Amarenco ran the rule over assets being sold by Irish firm Gaelectric, but has decided not to pitch for those windfarms.

"We hope to be in a position by later this year to have quite a significant amount of strategic equity for the UK, French and Irish markets," he said, adding that the funds are being raised via Sustainable Development Capital in London.

Mr Mullins said the equity being raised should be sufficient to finance development activity for about three years.

Investors are likely to be European, said Mr Mullins.

At least some of the funds will be earmarked for the roll-out of French solar farms.

Amarenco already has eight operational solar farms in France, and a development pipeline there totalling 133MW. It's planning to build almost 40 solar farms in Ireland.

Mr Mullins said the equity being raised will go into subsidiaries of Amarenco, meaning the currently equity status of the holding company won't be affected.

That means that existing investors in the holding unit won't have their stakes diluted.

Investors in Amarenco include tech guru Bill McCabe's Oyster Capital, and Ian Quinn, the founder of medical device firm Creganna, in which he sold a majority stake in 2010 in a deal that valued the company then at €220m.

Creganna was sold this year for €820m. Mr Quinn is also Amarenco's chairman.

"With the level of interest in Amarenco, we're confident that we should be able to announce a new partner by the end of the year," said Mr Mullins.

He founded Amarenco in 2013 after leaving Board Gáis in 2012 after five years as chief executive of the then semi-state company.

Mr Mullins confirmed that Amarenco is interested in Irish windfarm assets that come up for sale, as well as UK and French solar energy projects.

Irish renewable energy firm Gaelectric has had its windfarm portfolio - with an estimated equity value of about €350m - up for sale since earlier this year.

"We looked at it, but we're not in the running for them. It's a bit too early for us," said Mr Mullins, who also previously worked with ESB and NTR. However, he said he expects other assets to come up for sale in coming months.

Mr Mullins also said that he believes an Irish company could emerge as one of the consolidators of the renewable energy sector in Europe.

"I think you're going to have brand new entities that are specifically renewable utilities," he said. "I wouldn't rule out a very large Irish player in the future, backed by international funds."

Mr Mullins also said that a stock market flotation of Amarenco is unlikely for the company.

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