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UK solar fund looks to SA investors

Mar 19 2017 06:00
Justin Brown

Johannesburg - UK-based Foresight Solar Fund is looking to raise about R500 million from local investors as part of a £50 million (R796 million) capital raise.

The fund, which owns 18 solar power plants in the UK with an installed capacity of 470 megawatts, is already listed on the London Stock Exchange and is planning to take up a secondary listing on the JSE on April 3.

The capital-raising is a private placement and investors need to put down at least R1 million to participate.

Foresight Solar, which has a market value of about R6 billion, has no interest in any local renewable projects.

Ricardo Pineiro, a Foresight Solar partner, said during an investor presentation this week that if the issues with Eskom’s refusal to sign new renewable power purchase agreements were resolved, there could be opportunities for the fund in South Africa.

Pineiro said that the fund had considered the JSE secondary listing because of the level of local interest and understanding of renewable energy.

“There are limited opportunities for South African investors to directly participate in infrastructure investments in the UK and green assets in particular.

The JSE has no renewable energy listings and the Foresight Solar Fund will provide an investment opportunity for investors,” he added.

“Limits restrict South African investors’ ability to invest directly into the UK. Feedback from investors is that a JSE listing would allow direct exposure in the most efficient way and on an unrestricted basis.”

Pineiro said that the fund, which employs 160 people, had a pipeline of solar projects that could produce 250MW of power.

Foresight Group, which is the fund’s parent company, has over 80 solar assets worldwide with an installed capacity of 900MW, which is valued at £1.3 billion.

Jamie Richards, Foresight’s global head of infrastructure, said that the total UK solar-installed capacity was about 12GW out of total UK power installed capacity of 100GW.

The UK has set a renewable target of 15% of total power by 2020.

Richards said that solar power on average provided 2.5% to 3% of total power generated in the UK.

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