Clean Investor, April 19: Icelandic pension funds in geothermal deal

RI’s regular Tuesday review of clean investing news

A group of Icelandic pension funds have agreed to buy 25% of Canada’s Magma Energy Corp.’s Icelandic geothermal power company HS Orka hf for ISK8.06bn (€49m) – with the option of raising their stake to 33.4% later. The unnamed funds will get “significant minority shareholder rights” to appoint board members and participate in decisions. The deal is expected to close in May. Magma announcement

Four Winds Capital Management’s water infrastructure fund Aqua Resources Fund – in which the West Midlands Pension Fund has a near 30% stake – says its net asset value has risen 10%. “‘Despite challenging economic conditions across the geographies in which Aqua operates, the fund produced robust results, achieving an uplift in net asset value of over ten per cent,’ said Four Winds’ CEO Kimberly Tara. Announcement

Norges Bank Investment Management, the manager of the NOK3trn (€385bn) Government Pension Fund, has slightly reduced its holding of Vestas Wind Systems A/S shares from 10,312,779 to 10,164,934 shares (4.99%), according to a release from the Danish wind turbine firm.

Meanwhile, Norges has disclosed a holding of 409,077 shares (5.04%) in Nasdaq-listed Chinese water and Tri-Tech Holding Inc. Beijing-based Tri-Tech provides customized sewage treatment and water tracking systems.

Bâtirente, the Canadian retirement system with C$789.6m (€571.8m) in assets under management, is among backers of a new Boreal Business Forum, a roundtable launched by the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (CBFA). The forum is intended to monitor progress in implementing the CBFA and provide external validation to the process. Announcement

Norwegian solar power technology firm Renewable Energy Corporation says its offering of new senior unsecured bonds in the Norwegian market – worth a total of NOK1.2bn – was oversubscribed. DnB NOR Markets, Nordea Markets and SEB Merchant Banking arranged the transaction, the proceeds of which will be used for general corporate purposes, REC said.

Toronto and Oslo-listed solar power firm Etrion Corp. has issued €60m of bonds in the Norwegian bond market at 9% annual interest with a four-year maturity. Etrion’s largest shareholder, the Lundin family, subscribed for a quarter of the issue. Link*Eurosif, the European Sustainable Investment Forum*, has published a report outlining the major environmental, social and governance (ESG) challenges posed by energy efficiency. It is based on research from Oekom and with input from Bank Sarasin, CM-CIC Asset Management, Henderson Global Investors and Robeco.

TPG Capital, the private equity firm with $48bn in assets under management, has agreed to invest in Hong Kong-listed Chinese solar wafer firm Comtec Solar Systems Group. The firms said that in total TPG would invest HK$1.17bn ($150m) for a total stake of around 21%. “Comtec is our first China-based solar investment, and we are confident in Comtec’s ability to expand successfully,” said Stephen Peel, Managing Partner of TPG Asia.

Google says it has now invested over $250m in the clean energy sector, following its $168m backing of BrightSource Energy’s Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System “power tower” project in the Mojave Desert in California. “The investment makes business sense and will help ensure that one of the world’s largest solar energy projects is completed,” said Google’s Director of Green Business Operations Rick Needham in a blog post

A lack of access to finance has been cited as an obstacle to expansion by respondents to a survey of UK cleantech companies by the Carbon Trust. But it also found that the firms are now more confident about their prospects in the last year with 77% looking to recruit in the next 12 months and 37% planning to expand into new export markets in the next two years.
The UK government is to launch a consultation in May on whether corporate greenhouse gas emissions disclosure should be mandatory, officials at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) have confirmed to Responsible Investor. DEFRA has sustainable development and the green economy as part of its remit.

Venture capital funding and mergers and acquisitions activity in the solar sector in the first quarter of 2011 was up to $658m in 25 deals, according to consulting firm Mercom Capital. But there was only $76m funding for smart grid technology and a paltry £9m for the wind sector in the same period, Mercom added.