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French solar IPP woos investors for growth drive

Groupe Générale du Solaire has raised funds to help drive both its domestic and international expansion with investment from Bpifrance and Irdi Soridec Gestion. 

The transaction announced this week will see lead investor Bpifrance and co-investor Irdi Soridec Gestion take a combined minority stake in a new business holding created by Groupe Générale du Solaire, rather than for operational assets which the Paris-headquartered IPP currently owns. 

“It was important for us to start our next phase of development, and this was a strategic transaction rather than a purely financial one,” Groupe Générale du Solaire chief financial officer Frederick Dubois told Energy Rev in a phone interview, adding that Bpifrance’s investment, in particular, represents “a validation of our business.” 

The new holding comprises close to 200MWp of solar PV projects for which Groupe Générale du Solaire has secured CRE tariffs in France’s tender rounds for the incentives over the last few years, and a further 400MWp development pipeline.  

The independent IPP, which was founded in 2008, is also developing a circa 1GW international pipeline of projects across Europe, Africa and the Middle East via GDS International.  

Générale du Solaire aims to bring online the 200MW portfolio of CRE-supported projects over the next two years and will retain ownership of the assets in order to derive revenue from energy sales.  

However, it is expected to divest projects in its international development pipeline either at ready-to-build stage or during construction.  

The group recently secured finance for a 6MW combined solar and storage plant in Corsica and has begun talks with lenders over the financing of an initial 60MW tranche of its CRE tariff-supported assets.  

“It’s true that in the current market [due to Covid-19] some lenders have indicated that debt pricing has temporarily gone up by some 25bps-50bps, but nothing has dramatically changed and leverage is still available at 90%-plus,” Dubois said. 

Bpifrance has invested in the company via its France Investissement Energie Environnement (FIEE) fund. Irdi Soridec Gestion is a regional investor in SMEs in south-west France. 

The incoming investors were advised on the transaction by Crowe HAF (financial) and Joffe & Associés (legal). 

Groupe Générale du Solaire was advised by BG2V (legal). 

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