BlackRock seeks buyer for Origin Energy-backed QLD renewables

The Australian Financial Review, Sarah Thompson, Anthony Macdonald and Tim Boyd, Oct 13, 2020 – 9.35pm. Copyright 2021. Fairfax Media Management Pty Limited.

BlackRock Real Assets - part of the $US7.3 trillion BlackRock family - has put its 90 per cent stake in two Queensland solar farms on the block.

Street Talk can reveal BlackRock is keen to call time on its investment in the 240 megawatt Gretel Solar Portfolio (GSP) which consists of the Daydream Solar Farm and Hayman Solar Farm, which are co-located in Queensland.

The firm owns the 90 per cent stake via its Global Renewable Power Fund II - a $US1.65 billion fund that was raised in 2017 - and has since made investments in countries including Australia, the United States, Norway and Japan.

BlackRock has tapped Azure Capital and global firm Natixis to handle the sale, and the advisers have sent a teaser document to potential buyers and told them to prepare for indicative bids this side of Christmas.

The flyer, obtained by Street Talk, made a five-point pitch to potential buyers including its contracted revenue, operational solar portfolio, development partner, stable cashflow and potential for further development.

 The flyer said the 180MW Daydream Solar Farm was backed by a 10-year power purchase agreement with Australian utility Origin Energy, which would see Origin take 100 per cent of the output until December 2030.

Buyers were reminded that Origin was a Baa3 rated by Moody's - and Origin's contract accounted for 80 per cent of the portfolio's revenue.

Edify stays in

Edify Energy, which developed the solar farms, owns the other 10 per cent stake and is expected to remain invested and retain management rights, the flyer said.

BlackRock's mooted sale comes only three years after its fund acquired the stake in what was then a portfolio of two solar farms projects nearing construction. Since then, GSP's owners and managers completed grid commissioning and commercial operations in February 2020.

It also comes amid an outburst in Australian renewable energy M&A, including another large solar portfolio selldown by global renewables developer and owner Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV), as Street Talk revealed on Tuesday. 

For the Azure and Natixis combination, their sell-side role follows a successful stint selling Engie's Australian renewable energy assets, including its 119MW Willogoleche wind farm in South Australia and a hefty development pipeline. Australian fund manager Infrastructure Capital Group acquired the assets, paying about $400 million.

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