Mullins eyes up €150 million of solar projects for Amarenco

Former Bord Gáis chief executive in advanced discussions with investors

Amarenco

, the renewables company set up by former Bord Gá

is chief executive John Mullins, says it is in "advanced discussions" with US and German investors over a proposal to raise more than €150 million to invest in solar energy projects in Britain and France.

Mr Mullins said the money would not be raised directly by Amarenco, but rather the company would be the asset manager for two separate funds set up to funnel investors' cash into solar projects in the two countries.

Solar projects
Amarenco, which was set up by Mr Mullins last year following his exit from Bord Gáis, is involved in the setting up of a £100 million (€120 million) fund to invest in solar projects in southwest England.

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Mr Mullins said it already has a pipeline of projects that are ready for investment, with the aim of acquiring 100MW of solar farms.

The British fund will not leverage its capital to invest on a larger scale. Mr Mullins, who had originally planned to raise money for investment in Britain last year, said the market there is only opening up and banks are still reluctant to lend for large solar projects.

Amarenco, is also involved in the setting up of a separate fund to invest in France, where it already owns a €19 million solar project in its own right. The new fund will seek to raise €35 million in equity, which will possibly be leveraged up to €100 million to develop a further 100MW of capacity.

“These deals are imminent. We need to have things in motion by June,” said Mr Mullins. In addition to its upfront fees as asset manager, Amarenco will be incentivised by way of a “carry” on the deal. It is likely to receive about a fifth of all returns earned by the investors above 8 per cent.

The company has also signed a "binding agreement" to buy another 8MW solar project near Toulouse in southern France for more than €10 million, which it will also manage. This would be held separately from the €35 million fund.

French developer
"We are working with a family office on the ground out there and a well-known French developer of solar projects," said Mr Mullins.

He said Amarenco is in discussions over financing for the Toulouse project with Saar Landesbank, which recently financed another €19 million Amarenco investment in Provence, as well as “other institutions”.

Mark Paul

Mark Paul

Mark Paul is Business Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Caveat column