Antin, Deutsche AM offload solar plants hit by subsidy cuts

There is ongoing legal action against the Spanish government relating to the two projects sold to Cubico.

Antin Infrastructure Partners, Deutsche Asset Management and Cobra have completed the sale of two concentrated solar plants with a 99.8MW capacity to Cubico.

The Andasol I and II projects have been operating since 2008 and 2009 respectively after they were developed at a cost of about €500 million by Cobra.

The two fund managers bought 90 percent of the projects from Cobra in 2011, but the sites were soon affected by the Spanish government’s retroactive renewable subsidy cuts, implemented in 2012. As a result, the plants were trading at a 0.8 times money multiple as of last June, according to Fund I figures disclosed by Antin to the Public Employees Retirement Association of New Mexico.

Cubico declined to provide an updated figure, while Antin could not be reached at the time of going to press.

Antin and Deutsche AM have since pursued legal action against the Spanish authorities for the hit to revenues, alongside about 30 other investors in separate cases. The first successful proceeding was concluded in May, when UK-based firm EISER Infrastructure was awarded €128 million by the Washington-based International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes. The Andasol case is understood to be closer to a conclusion than many of the other disputes, according to legal sources, although Antin has retained full control of the legal proceedings and Cubico will have no involvement in the matter. 

The projects were refinanced last year in a transaction that included 10 commercial banks, as well as the European Investment Bank and Spanish export credit agency ICO.

“This is an important acquisition for Cubico and adds to our growing portfolio of renewable energy assets, improving the balance of our portfolio and increasing the proportion of energy we produce from solar sources,” said David Swindin, head of EMEA at Cubico. “We remain keen to invest further in Europe and continue to look for other opportunities.”

The completion of the Andasol deal comes a week after Stephen Riley was appointed the firm’s new chief executive following the departure of Marcos Sebares. The company is owned jointly by OTPP and PSP.

Following the sale of Andasol, Antin is now nearer to fully realising its first fund, which closed on €1.1 billion in 2010. The vehicle made nine investments – including Andasol – and has now exited seven of those. The remaining assets are transport and logistics company Euroports and Croatian motorway manager Bina Istra. The fund was generating a net IRR of 19.2 percent as of last year, the New Mexico association stated.