Lightsource Renewable Energy Holdings and its financial adviser, The Royal Bank of Scotland, have announced the successful £284m refinancing of a portfolio of UK solar projects, owned and operated by Lightsource. The 101 megawatt portfolio consists of 33 operational, UK based, ground-mounted solar projects which attract 20-25 year fixed income tariffs under the UK Government’s Feed in Tariff subsidy regime.
Lightsource, a European solar energy company, is the largest developer, asset manager and operator of utility scale solar in the UK, currently managing an operational portfolio of more than 1 gigawatt – capable of generating enough to power more than 330,000 UK households each year. The portfolio, distributed across central and southern UK, became operational throughout 2011-2015 and was previously financed by a combination of multiple bank loans.
Lightsource has raised over £1.1bn of project finance debt during 2015 and this transaction represents Lightsource’s first move into the long-dated institutional market, completing the first ever sterling, benchmark-size solar bond and the largest sterling renewables bond. M&G Investments provided £247 million of 22-year inflation linked finance with AMP Capital providing a £37 million 8-year mezzanine facility . The transaction, priced via RBS, demonstrates M&G and AMP Capital’s continued commitment to financing in the solar sector.
Paul McCartie, Structured Finance Director at Lightsource, said: “We are delighted to have closed this deal which represents a significant milestone for Lightsource. We would like to thank M&G and AMP Capital for their continued support on the transaction and hope that we can maintain those partnerships with future deals in the pipeline. We have raised over £1.1bn of project financing this year which is an amazing achievement and wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the lenders and advisors who work with us.”
Craig Love, Director, Infrastructure and Structured Finance, RBS, said: “We are pleased that our sector and execution expertise, together with our international distribution network, were able to help deliver this landmark transaction for Lightsource. RBS has been at the forefront of the UK solar market since its inception in 2010, has funded 1.2GW of projects to-date and retains a strong pipeline of solar projects going forward.”
John Mayhew, Head of Infrastructure Finance at M&G Investments, said: “Consolidation within the solar sector is providing investable opportunities for institutional clients. We have structured the deal to deliver inflation-linked returns, with good security to ensure risks are appropriately rewarded.
“The injection of a quarter of a billion pounds of long term institutional financing will enable Lightsource to grow and develop further sites across the UK. The latest deal brings M&G’s debt investment into the sector to over £385 million in the past 12 months, providing power for the equivalent of almost 90,000 average-sized homes.”
Emma Haight-Cheng, Debt Principal at AMP Capital Infrastructure, said: “We are excited to have closed this critical transaction with Lightsource and are looking forward to strengthening our partnership with Europe’s leading solar energy company. I am delighted that AMP Capital was able to deliver an innovative and responsive financing solution for Lightsource. This transaction demonstrates AMP Capital’s ability to capitalise on the strength of its market relationships and bring flexible financing structures to a wide range of sectors.”
M&G and AMP Capital were advised by Clifford Chance and Norton Rose Fulbright respectively (Legal), Watson Farley Williams (Legal DD), DNV GL, OST and Sgurr (Technical), Willis (Insurance) and Operis (Model Audit). Dentons (Legal), Deloitte (Tax & Structuring) and RBS (Financial) advised Lightsource.