AXA PE and Tozzi target Italian solar

AXA Private Equity, which earlier this week announced a major French wind farm investment, has now unveiled a new solar energy joint venture with Italian industrial company Tozzi Group. The joint venture builds on a partnership AXA and Tozzi formed in 2007.

AXA Private Equity, the Paris-based private equity and infrastructure investor, has announced a joint venture with Italian industrial company Tozzi Group to invest in the Italian solar energy sector.

The joint venture, called TRE Solar, is the latest development in a partnership between AXA Private Equity and Tozzi that stems back to 2007 when they decided to invest in renewable energy together. AXA Private Equity will hold a 65 percent stake in TRE Solar and Tozzi Group 35 percent.

The seed investment for the joint venture is the acquisition of three Italian solar farms owned by Tozzi with a total capacity of 38 megawatts (MW). Two projects in the Puglia region, with a capacity of 10.2 MW, are already operational. A third project, in Emilia-Romagna, is currently under construction. The joint venture is aiming to have a minimum capacity of 120 MW by 2012.

“We are seeing an increasing number of interesting and well-priced investment opportunities in the Italian solar energy sector,” says AXA Private Equity head of infrastructure Mathias Burghardt in a statement. “We have therefore made the decision to broaden our existing strategic partnership with Tozzi Group to take advantage of these opportunities for our investors.”

AXA Private Equity and Tozzi now have more than 438 MW in operation in onshore wind farms, hydroelectric projects and solar farms in Italy.

Earlier this week, AXA Private Equity teamed up with French renewables producer neoen to agree the acquisition of the renewable energy activities of Poweo ENR from Austrian electricity firm Verbund. Through the deal, AXA Private Equity will become France’s fourth-largest wind farm operator.

Also this week, US alternative assets firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts teamed up with German insurer Munich Re to take a 49 percent stake in assets operated by Grupo T-Solar, the solar photovoltaic subsidiary of Spanish developer Isolux Corsan.