Thai firm Banpu wins auction for New Energy Solar

The Australian - Online, Bridget Carter, Sunday, 06 June 2021, 23:11 GMT,  © 2021 News Limited. All rights reserved. 

Thai energy company Banpu has won the contest to buy New Energy Solar’s Australian operations.

It comes after The Australian’s DataRoom column revealed on May 18 that the suitor was in the box seat to win the auction.

The sale by New Energy Solar was announced to the market on Monday.

Final bids were due two weeks ago in the competition for the ASX-listed group.

Other groups in the competition have included Palisade Investment Partners together with First Sentier Investors, Melbourne-based Lighthouse Infrastructure and Infrastructure Capital Group.

Banpu will buy New Energy Solar’s 110-megawatt Beryl plant and 55MW Manildra facilities in NSW for a combined gross asset value of $288m, delivering proceeds for New Energy Solar of $105.4m.

The deal valued the Beryl plant at $62.5m and the Manildra plant at $42.9m.

Beryl’s net asset value at December was $60m and Manildra $50.5m.

The Azure Capital-advised Banpu is a Thai energy company with over $12bn of assets under its management and in recent years it has generated close to $300m of net income.

It already owns Centennial Coal, which operates five mines in NSW that supply coal for export, and about 40 per cent of NSW’s coal-fired electricity.

The company sells about 40 per cent of its coal to export markets, primarily for use in power stations and steel mills in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Europe.

Banpu’s three core businesses are energy resources, including coal and gas; energy generation, which includes conventional energy and renewable energy; and energy technology, which includes wind and solar solutions, storage systems and energy technologies.

The deal shows that Banpu is prepared to put what has been an uneasy experience with running coal assets in this market to one side and instead try its hand in the Australian clean energy space.

The market value of New Energy Solar is currently about $300m and the assets have underperformed on the listed market, prompting a sale where a private investor would ascribe to them more value.

It comes amid a period of consolidation in the industry, with investors in solar and wind farms needing more diversified portfolios, rather than taking on risk with a single asset.

The listed New Energy Solar announced to the market last year that, following a strategic review, it had opted to sell its Australian solar farms.

The portfolio has been up for sale through the Royal Bank of Canada.

As well as its Australian portfolio, New Energy Solar owns 14 solar projects in the US.

New Energy Solar’s Australian solar farms have been described as being in a mature operational state compared with its larger US portfolio, which totals 606MW of capacity.

The company listed at $1.50 in 2017 and its shares on Monday were trading at about 83c.

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