AXA PE to buy French renewable assets

AXA Private Equity has teamed up with French renewables producer neoen to agree the acquisition of the renewable energy activities of Poweo ENR from Austrian electricity firm Verbund. The deal will make the Paris-based private equity firm France’s fourth-largest wind farm operator.

AXA Private Equity, the Paris-based private equity and infrastructure investor, has teamed up with French renewable energy producer neoen to agree the acquisition of the renewable energy activities of Poweo ENR from Verbund, the Austrian electricity firm.

No financial details of the transaction have been given, although a source close to the deal says the purchase price is below book value and will consequently cause a non-cash book loss. The same source said the sale will not have an impact on Verbund’s profit and loss forecast for 2011.

Poweo ENR is an independent renewable power firm with more than 120 megawatts (MW) of projects in operation, as well as a large portfolio of projects in development in wind, solar and biomass.

While AXA Private Equity and neoen are together acquiring all of Poweo ENR, a statement said that, in a second phase, it is anticipated that AXA Private Equity will retain the operational French wind assets while neoen will retain the operational French solar photovoltaic farms; the solar, wind and biomass projects under development in France, Italy and Poland; and Poweo ENR’s position within a consortium competing for a large French offshore wind tender.

The statement said that, as a result of the transaction – which is expected to complete “as soon as possible” – AXA Private Equity will acquire 10 operating wind farms in Lorraine, Champagne, Burgundy and Languedoc, totalling more than 100 MW. This would make AXA Private Equity the fourth-largest wind farm operator in France with more than 300 MW in wind capacity under operation and construction.

The deal will also take AXA Private Equity’s total European renewable capacity to 600 MW. The firm developed a renewable energy platform with Tozzi Group in Italy in 2007 and acquired Babcock & Brown’s French wind farm portfolio, renamed Kallista, in 2009.

The Poweo ENR deal is the first renewables transaction to come from AXA Private Equity’s latest infrastructure fund, which by last month had raised around €650 million on its way to an intended final close of between €1 billion and €1.5 billion later this year.

Yesterday, US alternative assets investor 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 infrastructure developer Isolux Corsan.