Bidders shortlisted in Lightsource BP solar auction

Breaking News 15 September

Bidders shortlisted in Lightsource BP solar auction

Palisade Investment Partners, BJEI Australia, Petronas' Gentari and CIMIC's Pacific Partnerships are among those shortlisted in an auction for Lightsource bp’s Australian solar portfolio, according to six sources familiar.

Indicative bids for the assets were filed last month and final proposals are due later this month, the sources said.

The equity cheque is likely to be between AUD 500m (USD 333m) and AUD 1bn, sources previously told Infralogic. The enterprise value is estimated to be AUD 2bn.

The Petronas unit this week announced that it was rebranding its recently purchased Wirsol Energy assets as Gentari Solar Australia. The company plans to increase its renewables capacity in the country by more than 5 GW by 2030, it said.

BJEI Australia, a group company of Beijing Energy International Holding, was established in 2021 to build on BJCE Australia's 285 MW portfolio, which is entirely in New South Wales.

Chinese bids for Australian infrastructure have become rare since the Australian government blocked State Grid's bid for AusGrid in 2016. More recently, there has been a thaw in bilateral relations.

Lightsource bp's sell side advisor, Macquarie Capital, in February, issued a teaser to the market, describing a sale code-named Glowworms to be launched in April. They were planning to sign a share purchase agreement in June and reach financial close in the third quarter of this year.

The process has gone more slowly than originally planned, sources said, with one pointing to a fatal accident at Lightsource bp’s Wellington North solar project in July as a delaying factor.

The developer launched a market sounding because it was considering four options. The alternatives were to either sell 75-90% of three operating assets, include two more in development, sell all of the three operational ones, or the entire portfolio of five assets.

Lightsource bp is operating the Wellington, Woolooga and West Wyalong solar farms. It is in the process of building the Wellington North and Wunghnu solar projects. These two would nearly double the size of the portfolio being sold to 1 GW.

Lightsource bp has signed power purchase agreements with Boral, ENGIE, Lion’s XXXX Brewery in Milton, Queensland, Orica and Mars Australia.

The developer is open to retaining a minority position with board representation, or exiting totally and continuing to provide asset management and building management services, as well as possibly operations and maintenance.

Some projects have co-located battery storage. Lightsource bp is also seeking to understand whether buyers would be interested in these and how it would value them.

The portfolio is financed with project-level debt and Macquarie has also considered a stapled financing, according to the teaser.

Spokespeople and officials at BJEI, Gentari, Lightsource bp, Pacific Partnerships and Palisade either declined comment or did not respond to requests for comment.

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