AUSTIN, Texas and BURLINGTON, Vermont – Green energy companies Draker and Solar Power Technologies, Inc. (SPTI) announced they have successfully merged yesterday, creating a global company with a highly innovative offering of performance management solutions for commercial and utility-scale solar markets. The newly combined companies will henceforth operate under the “Draker” name.
Along with the merger, the new Draker announced a US$8m equity investment led by Austin Ventures. Harbor Light Capital Partners and other existing investors from both companies also participated in the fund raising, which will be used to speed development of the company’s monitoring, optimization, control and asset management products and to increase sales and marketing efforts globally.
“The newly combined company brings a unique range of leadership solutions to a solar industry that is increasingly focused on capital efficiency, asset performance and reducing operating costs” said Clark Jernigan, of Austin Ventures. “Building on complementary product and service offerings, a reputation for excellent customer service and the experience from over a decade in solar monitoring, I believe the new Draker is well positioned to lead the solar performance management marketplace.”
The merged companies say that SPTI’s cost-effective DC monitoring and optimization technology along with Draker’s asset management platform will create a company that can lead the industry’s transition from basic monitoring to performance management. The merged company will be the only provider that can deliver insight, intelligence and control from the panel to the grid, giving array owners the ability to manage their sites down to a single panel or across an entire portfolio of solar assets. The platform will give solar asset owners and operators unprecedented capabilities to predict, measure, monitor, manage, optimize and control the performance and health of their large-scale PV assets says Draker.
“Solar owners and operators want more granular and actionable data on both the DC and AC sides of their plants in order to more actively manage performance and improve ROI. Until now, existing providers have not adequately addressed these needs with an integrated solution. With this merger, the new Draker becomes the first solution provider to combine selective DC monitoring and optimization, AC monitoring, intelligent diagnostics and control in a single, cost-effective platform,” explained Ray Burgess, President and CEO of Solar Power Technologies.
“This merger and financing solidifies Draker’s position as an industry leader and gives us the ability to aggressively compete not only in the United States, but globally” adds Charles Curtis, CEO of Draker. “Solar Power Technologies and Draker are a great fit geographically, operationally and culturally, with very complementary technologies. We look forward to leveraging the strengths of the combined management, development, execution and support teams to deliver our customers even greater innovation and value.”
Draker will maintain all of its existing operations in Texas, Vermont, California and New Jersey.
A new renewable energy venture capital fund has recently been set-up in Australia. The new Southern Cross Renewable Energy Fund is part of the Australian government’s Clean Energy Future plan and is the country’s largest clean energy fund to date, at AU$200m. The fund aims to assist in launching high-potential renewable energy start-ups across Australia.
The fund is part of a 13 year co-investment agreement between the Australian Government and Softbank China Venture Capital, who have committed half of the money each. It will be managed by Southern Cross Venture Partners and its primary objective will be to make early-stage equity investments and to provide ongoing investment strategies to support companies operating in Australia’s renewable energy sector.
The Fund will have offices and staff in Sydney, Palo Alto and Shanghai and a network of contacts and investment relationships across Australia, China and the US, including access to an Advisory Council comprised of members of a number of leading US venture capital funds.
Southern Cross and Softbank China have also collaborated on the AU$40m Southern Cross IIF Fund, under the Australian Government’s Innovation Investment Fund program and administered by AusIndustry, which invests in a broad range of technologies and sectors outside of Renewable Energy.
For more information, readers may visit www.sxvp.com.
Petroplus Refining and Marketing Limited, a subsidiary of Petroplus Holdings AG, a company listed on the Swiss SIX exchange, who own and operate the 586 acre Coryton oil refinery in Essex, have today filed for bankruptcy.
The Coryton site is an integrated atmospheric-vacuum distillation, fluid catalytic cracking refinery with a total throughput capacity of 220,000 barrels per day, or about 20% of demand in the UK’s South East. The site employs some 500 direct staff and 350 outside contractors.
Petroplus has faced well documented refinancing challenges recently and have suffered as a result of low refining margins and high restructuring costs. During December 2011 Petroplus Holdings AG announced that it was in discussions with its lenders to restructure its various financing arrangements. The Company has been unable to reach agreement with its lenders and is unable to continue to fund its subsidiaries, leading to today’s shut down.
“We have worked hard to avoid this outcome, but were ultimately not able to come to an agreement with our lenders to resolve these issues given the very tight and difficult European credit and refining markets” said Petroplus Chief Executive Jean-Paul Vettier. “We are fully aware of the impact that this will have on our workforce.”
Steven Pearson and Stephen Oldfield, both partners at PwC, were appointed joint administrators of Petroplus Refining and Marketing Limited today, whilst Mr Pearson and Ian Green of PwC have also been appointed to sister company, Petroplus Refining Teesside Limited, which operates an oil storage site on Teesside and a Research & Development site in Swansea. Petroplus Refining Teesside Limited has approximately 60 employees.
Mr Pearson said today: “Our immediate priority is to continue to operate the Coryton refinery and the Teesside storage business, without disruption while the financial position is clarified and restructuring options are explored. Over coming days we intend to commence discussions with a number of parties including customers, employees, the creditors and the Government to secure the future of the Coryton and Teesside sites.”
The refinery was operating normally today but deliveries of petrol and other products have been put on hold, due to the insolvency arrangements.
LanzaTech, a company who make low-carbon fuels and chemicals from waste gas, have raised US$55.8m in a Series ‘C’ funding round led by Malaysian Life Sciences Capital Fund. New investors included PETRONAS Technology Ventures Sdn Bhd, the venture arm of Malaysian national oil company PETRONAS; and Dialog Group, a Malaysian technical services provider in the oil, gas and petrochemicals industries. Existing investors Khosla Ventures; Qiming Venture Partners; and K1W1 also participated in the round, bringing LanzaTech’s total funding to date to over US$85m.
Dr Jennifer Holmgren, Chief Executive Officer of LanzaTech, said the latest funding will accelerate development of LanzaTech’s next generation integrated biorefineries, producing sustainable low carbon chemicals and fuels. “The size of this round and the quality of the new and returning investors is a strong validation of not only our technology, but the unparalleled opportunity for LanzaTech to be a global leader in biofuels and biochemicals markets” added Dr Holmgren.
Roger Wyse, Co-Chairman of Malaysian Life Sciences Capital Fundalso commented: “LanzaTech’s unique approach to taking a waste stream and converting it into a valuable and needed commodity will help address the dual challenge of energy demand and climate change, without compromising the use of land and water resources.”
LanzaTech’s fuel strategy is already a well developed technology and strategic and commercial partnerships have been established with several global entities. In China, a demonstration plant to convert waste flue gas from steel manufacturing at a Baosteel (China’s largest steel manufacturer) is mechanically complete and will begin production of ethanol later this year.
In India, LanzaTech is working with Indian Oil and Jindal Power and Steel Limited on a facility to also convert industrial waste gases into ethanol. The company has also partnered with Concord Blue on a project to convert municipal solid waste into ethanol throughout India.
In the United States, LanzaTech is developing a facility to produce renewable fuels and chemicals from regionally sourced waste wood in Soperton, Georgia and is also working with the US Department of Energy; the Department of Defense (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency – DARPA); and the Federal Aviation Administration, where the firm is adapting its technology to produce aviation fuels for both commercial and military use.
“Biofuels will contribute to a significant portion of the energy supply in the future” said Mr Chan Yew Kai, President and Chief Operating Officer of Dialog Group. “Lanzatech’s environmentally friendly fermentation technology using microbes to convert industrial waste gases to biofuel and other chemical products provides DIALOG Group the ideal platform to be part of this exciting business sector.”
Haida Shenny Hazri, CEO of PETRONAS Technology Ventures Sdn Bhd, also explained that their investment will provide a platform for the integration of LanzaTech’s technology on converting waste gases into PETRONAS’ operations.
LanzaTech was founded in 2005 in New Zealand and is headquartered in Roselle, Illinois, USA. More information is available at www.lanzatech.co.nz.
Semprius, Inc, an innovative producer of high concentration photovoltaic (HCPV) solar modules, has recently secured an additional US$3m in its latest round of venture funding including new investor Morgan Creek Capital Management Illinois Emerging Technologies Fund. Existing investors IllinoisVENTURES and In-Q-Tel also came back to the table.
The new funding will be used to speed construction of a pilot plant producing high-efficiency, low-cost solar modules in Durham, NC. The latest funding follows investment led by Siemens Venture Capital during a Series C round in July 2011 .
The company has also welcomed Gregory Wolf, President of Duke Energy Renewables, to its board of directors. Mr Wolf leads Duke Energy’s non-regulated renewable power business, which delivers wind and solar energy solutions throughout the United States.
“There is a large market opportunity for Semprius as they capitalize on the growing global demand for utility-scale solar” said Mr Wolf. “I’m eager to work with this outstanding North Carolina growth company as they accelerate the adoption of solar energy in many key markets.”
Semprius manufactures a unique, HCPV module design that begins with a proprietary micro-transfer printing process. This enables the company to use world’s smallest solar cell – approximately the size of a pencil point – to create solar modules with unmatched cost and performance advantages.
“The additional capital, together with our investors’ and board’s support, will help us advance key initiatives to position Semprius for aggressive growth” added Joe Carr, Chief Executive Officer of Semprius. “In addition, the ability to attract an industry veteran like Greg Wolf to join our board is a solid testimonial to the value of the technology we are pioneering.”
Semprius, based Durham, North Carolina, designs and manufactures the highest efficiency solar modules in the world, according to the company. Using patented cell technology and state-of-the-art manufacturing processes, Semprius is a leading player in the cost-competitive and sustainable generation of solar electricity.
Google, KKR (Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P. plus affiliates) and Recurrent Energy have announced a major investment in a portfolio of solar photovoltaic facilities serving the Sacramento, California Municipal Utility District (SMUD). The portfolio of projects is to be financed by a combination of debt and equity, including a significant equity investment from Google, in addition to equity from SunTap Energy RE LLC, a new venture formed recently by KKR to invest in solar projects across the USA.
“The investment is a clear demonstration of solar’s ability to attract private capital from well-established investors like Google and KKR” says Arno Harris, CEO of Recurrent Energy. “This transaction provides an example of the direction solar is headed as a viable, mainstream part of our energy economy.”
The four solar PV facilities provide 88 MW of power to the Sacramento Utility District and were the first to be awarded as part of its feed-in tariff program of January 2010. Construction of three of the Sacramento projects is scheduled to be complete early 2012, with the fourth coming online later that year. The projects are expected to generate nearly 160,000,000 kWh in their first year of operation – roughly equivalent to the electricity consumption of over 13,000 homes.
Clean Energy a Core Value
Google’s new investment brings its total renewable energy investments to more than US$915m.
“Google’s commitment to clean energy continues to be a core value for the company” said Axel Martinez, Assistant Treasurer at Google. “Over the past 18 months, Google has made investments in the sector that not only help deploy hundreds of megawatts of sustainable power, but also enable new and exciting business opportunities. We’re excited to be supporting KKR’s entrance into the renewable energy sector in the USA. We hope the sector continues to atract new sources of capital.”
“Recurrent Energy is a leading solar developer and Google embodies innovation” adds Raj Agrawal, head of KKR’s North American Infrastructure team. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to partner with these two leaders to serve SMUD with a substantial and reliable new source of renewable energy and to contribute to our country’s vast growth in clean energy resources.”
SunTap is KKR’s third renewable energy investment in 2011 and its first renewable investment in the US. Other recent transactions include investments in Sorgenia, a French wind farm operator; and T-Solar, an established solar energy company in Spain. To establish SunTap, KKR has committed a US$95m line of equity, a portion of which will be drawn for this investment, with the rest invested in similar projects.
Funds advised by CVC Capital Partners announced on Friday the sale of their majority stake in Belgium based Taminco, the world’s largest producer of alkylamines and their chemical derivatives. The sale was to affiliates of Apollo Global Management, the well-known global private equity firm. The new majority owners of Taminco say they will support the company’s continued growth, based on its strategy of focus on customer commitment; product innovation; integration and globalization. Closing of the transaction is subject to antitrust approval and is expected to take place in the first half of 2012.
Taminco is the world’s only global independent and integrated specialist alkylamine producer. Alkylamines are key building blocks in a broad array of chemical products which have a wide range of applications across Agrichems; Personal & Home Care; Food and Nutrition; Energy/Oil & Gas; Pharmaceuticals and Water Treatment.
Under CVC’s ownership sales increased from €625m for the year ended 31st December, 2007 to €715m for the year ended 31st December, 2010. Earnings before interest, taxation etc (EBITDA) over the same period rose from €110m to €159m. Other achievements under CVC’s ownership included the implementation of a fully integrated manufacturing strategy; significant new investment in the Company’s US operations; and globalization of its business through a joint venture with China’s Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Company.
A Successful Exit
Steven Buyse, Senior Managing Director of CVC, commented: “Taminco is a high quality business with robust margins and healthy growth prospects. We are delighted to have been actively involved since 2007 in the evolution of Taminco to a fully integrated global player in the specialty chemicals market. Realizing a successful exit for CVC under current market conditions is a great result for CVC and a testament to the strength of the Taminco business model and the quality of its management and employees.”
Laurent Lenoir, Chief Executive Officer of Taminco added: “We enjoyed working with CVC and greatly appreciated their support for our international expansion and investment strategy, including our most recent joint venture in China and the recently announced DMAPA unit in our Saint Gabriel (Louisiana, US) plant. With Apollo we welcome a new investor with particular expertise in investing in chemicals companies, such as Momentive Performance Materials Holdings. Apollo is fully committed to endorse management’s plans and to continue the growth story while preserving our unique corporate culture.”
CVC and Taminco were advised by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, Allen & Overy, Ernst & Young, Arthur D Little and URS.