GE Energy Financial Services, a unit of GE (NYSE: GE), and Grupo Corporativo Landon announced today they will invest about USD 350 million (EUR 225 million) in Fotowatio, one of Spain’s largest and most successful solar power project developers. Fotowatio owns, operates and is developing almost 960 megawatts of solar projects in the fast–growing solar power markets of Spain, Italy and the United States. Existing investors in Fotowatio comprise investment fund Qualitas Venture Capital and Fotowatio’s management.
“GE has all the right ingredients to succeed in solar: capital, technology, research and ecomagination.” Ecomagination is GE’s program to help its customers meet their environmental challenges while expanding the company’s own portfolio of cleaner energy products.
“During the past two years, Fotowatio has quickly grown into one of Spain’s largest operators and developers of solar power,” said Iñigo Olaguíbel, partner at Qualitas Equity Partners, which manages the Qualitas Venture Capital fund. “We look forward to working alongside GE Energy Financial Services and Grupo Corporativo Landon to support Fotowatio’s expansion in Spain, Italy, the United States and beyond.”
Fotowatio’s portfolio includes almost 60 megawatts in operation in the Spanish towns of Trujillo, Arroyo de San Serván and Olmedilla de Alarcón; and more than 900 megawatts of projects in development in Spain, Italy and the United States. Fotowatio uses solar photovoltaic technology, which converts light directly into electricity, as well as concentrated solar power technology, which uses mirrors and tracking systems to focus sunlight into a heat source for use in a conventional steam turbine. With no fuel cost or emissions, this portfolio will produce clean energy and avoid more than 730,000 t a year in greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional fossil fueltechnology.
GE Energy Financial Services will invest USD 235 million (EUR 150 million) in equity and convertible debt to acquire 32 percent and Grupo Corporativo Landon, a family–owned Spanish holding company with diversified investments, will invest USD 118 million (EUR 75 million) in equity to acquire 17.5 percent of a new holding company, Fotowatio SL. The existing Spanish investors will own the remaining 5 0.5 percent: Qualitas Venture Capital—a fund managed by Qualitas Equity Partners and invested in by Timón SA—will own 33.5 percent, and Fotowatio’s management will own 17 percent.
“Fotowatio is one of the most successful solar power developers in Europe, with a management team that has demonstrated development and operational capabilities,” said Andrew Marsden, Managing Director for Europe at GE Energy Financial Services. “Thisinvestment will contribute to GE Energy Financial Services’ goals of investing USD 6 billion in renewable energy worldwide by 2010 as well as USD 5 billion outside the US by 2010.” The GE unit announced earlier this month that it had just crossed the USD 4 billion mark in renewable energy investments.
Solar power has increased by 40 percent worldwide each year since 2005, making it one of the world’s fastest–growing renewable energy sources. Spain’s renewable energy target calls for 12 percent of the country’s energy demand to come from renewable sources by 2010, up from 9.5 percent in 2007. Italy has set its renewable energy target at 6.8 percent of demand by 2011. The European Union has set a longer–term binding target of a 20 percent share of renewable energy sources in energy consumption in 2020.
“With capital injections from our investors and potential access to GE’s solar modules and steam turbines, Fotowatio can expand its portfolio in growing markets and bring clean, solar–generated power to thousands of homes and businesses across the globe,” said Rafael Benjumea, CEO of Fotowatio.
Renewable energy is one of GE’s fastest growing businesses. GE Energy supplies solar modules and pre–packaged solar systems for residential and commercial use, and recently increased its equity share in PrimeStar Inc., a solar thin–film technology and manufacturing company. GE Energy also launched a strategic alliance with GAF Materials Corporation to market and develop solar roofing systems. GE’s Global Research Center conducts advanced research and development in photovoltaics, other solar power systems and grid management technologies.
About Grupo Corporativo Landon
The Landon Corporate Group, chaired by D. Antonio Gallardo Ballart, and belonging to the Gallardo Family—major shareholders of the pharmaceutical company Laboratorios. Almirall—is a private wealth management holding com pany whose activities include investment in real estate, financial investment, business investment in companies, private equity activities by its venture capital company La ndon Investments, as well as entrepreneurial diversification projects.
About Qualitas Venture Capital
Qualitas Venture Capital is a private equity firm funded by Timón Group. QVC is managed by Qualitas Equity Partners, which invests in several sectors including renewable energy. In 2006, Qualitas invested in the solar power industry with the goal of creating a leading international solar power generation company.
GE is a diversified global infrastructure, finance and media company that is built to meet essential world needs. From energy, water, transportation and health to access to money and information, GE serves customers in more than 100 countries and employs more than 300,000 people worldwide. For more information, visit their site at http://www.ge.com. GE is Imagination at Work