EISER secures €475m for Spanish solar plants

The infrastructure fund has obtained €475m of long-term project financing to back two greenfield solar thermal plants.

EISER Infrastructure Partners has reached financial close for two 50-megawatt solar thermal power plants near Ciudad Real, in central Spain.

The infrastructure investor has secured €475 million of long-term project finance debt for the two projects, known collectively as Aries Solar Termoelectrica (ASTE). EISER first invested in ASTE in October 2007, out of its first, €1.1 billion infrastructure fund, which is now fully invested. 

The fund subsequently sold a majority stake in ASTE to Spanish infrastructure group Elecnor whilst agreeing to buy from Elecnor a minority stake in another 50-megawatt solar plant in development near the border with Portugal, known as Dioxipe, in the Extremadura region. EISER now owns 30 percent of ASTE and 33.8 percent of Dioxipe.

“The successful completion of the sale, purchase and long-term project financing arrangements is evidence of our ability to manage and implement greenfield projects and their associated risks,” commented Jaime Hector, a partner at EISER.

Chief executive Hans Meissner announced on the sidelines of March’s Infrastructure Investor: Europe event, in Berlin, that EISER had already raised €277 million for its second, 12-year infrastructure fund, targeting a final close of about €1 billion. 

While Meissner did not wish to comment on the identity of the second vehicle’s limited partners, sources told Infrastructure Investor that Dutch pension fund ABP and the Greater Manchester Pension Fund are investors in EISER’s second fund.

EISER was part of Belgian banking group Fortis. When Fortis suffered massive write-downs at the end of 2008 on account of the US sub-prime crisis, the Belgian and Luxembourg governments asked French bank BNP Paribas to take over Fortis, and the fund found itself part of BNP Paribas, the parent sponsor of Antin Infrastructure Partner's €1.1 billion infrastructure fund. In January 2010, the firm completed its management buyout from Fortis and rebranded as EISER Infrastructure Partners.