I Squared backs distributed solar power in India

Amplus Solar marks the New York firm’s latest investment through ISQ Global Infrastructure Fund, the largest first-time infrastructure vehicle raised since 2009.

New York-based infrastructure investment firm I Squared Capital is backing Amplus Energy Solutions, owner and operator of distributed rooftop solar power, by investing in the India-based company through ISQ Global Infrastructure Fund.

I Squared did not disclose the amount of capital invested and declined to comment on market rumours that placed it at $120 million.

“Suffice it to say that Amplus is adequately capitalised for its growth plan,” I Squared partner Gautam Bhandari told Infrastructure Investor in a phone interview on Monday.

According to a statement the firm released announcing the deal, Amplus is planning a centralised monitoring facility in the outskirts of Delhi, growing its project and field teams across India and opening an office in Singapore to pursue opportunities there as well as in other Southeast Asian countries.

While I Squared did not disclose the ownership interest it acquired in the business through ISQ Global Infrastructure Fund, Bhandari said that the firm does seek to acquire controlling stakes in the companies in which it invests “so that we can bring about operational improvements.”

Through its expansion, Amplus will also help India reach its goal of developing 40 gigawatts of rooftop solar by 2020, as set out by Narendra Modi’s administration.

“Meeting such a goal requires substantial investment from both public and private sectors,” Bhandari said in the statement. “We are proud to partner with Amplus to bring this efficient and sustainable technology to more customers in India and beyond.”

“The big headlines we're seeing concern global volatility, in particular the large swings coming out of Asia markets,” said Andreas Moon, a principal and head of investor relations at I Squared, during Monday's call. “With public markets showing uncertainty and weakness, this transaction is an example of private capital stepping in to help companies that cannot turn to public markets for their funding needs.”

Bhandari added: “That is one of the advantages of being a global, mid-market fund. We can take advantage of market dislocations which leads to unique and attractive opportunities.”

Founded in 2012, Amplus’s management team includes industry veterans who developed their careers at major multinational companies such as NTPC, Mirant and SBI Capital Markets. Sanjeev Aggrawal, the company’s chief executive and co-founder, spent seven years at AES Corporation where he was responsible for the US power developer’s business development in India.

Amplus represents I Squared’s ninth investment to date through its debut infrastructure fund which it closed on its hard cap of $3 billion in April, making it the largest first-time infrastructure vehicle raised since 2009.

While two-thirds of the fund will invest in OECD countries, the remainder targets non-OECD countries with a particular emphasis on China and India.

Investors in the fund, which focuses on energy, utilities and transportation, include Denmark’s PKA AIP, the New Mexico Educational Retirement Board (NMERB), the Employees’ Retirement System of Rhode Island and the State of Hawaii Employees’ Retirement System.