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Finnish Utility Fortum Looking To Offload India Solar Assets

The Indian subsidiary of Finnish utility Fortum has joined the long queue of Indian solar power developers looking to sell their assets.

According to media reports, Fortum India is looking to sell a majority stake in 500 megawatts of solar power projects. Fortum’s plans to sell assets has attracted some marquee investors like Brookfield Asset Management and private equity firm Actis. A total of 3 non-binding bids have been submitted for assets on offer.

Fortum has 700 megawatts of solar power assets operational in India. Of the 500 megawatts on the block, around half is operational with the balance nearing completion. The sale of these assets is valued at around €500 million. Fortum is expected to use proceeds from this asset sale to deploy capital in other India ventures. The company has plans to set up 500 megawatts of solar power capacity every year. It is also working on a bio-ethanol plant, waste-to-energy projects, and EV charging infrastructure.

In June 2018, Fortum had sold a 54% stake in 185 megawatts of solar power assets to UK Climate Investments and Elite Alfred Berg.

Over the last few months, several companies with solar power projects in India have sold stake or assets to raise funds to develop new projects. While interest rates remain at their lowest in several years, banks’ capacity to lend to renewable energy projects has declined. Rapidly falling tariff bids and persistent payment risk from financially mismanaged distribution utilities means that banks are shying away from lending to renewable energy projects.

Among the most recent and high profile exits from the Indian renewable energy was that of SoftBank-backed SB Energy. The company entered India in 2015 with an ambitious target to install 2 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity at an investment of US$20 billion. SoftBank sold its entire 80% stake in the company to Canadian pension board CPPIB.

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