Polish private equity firm launches wind vehicle

A fund managed by Enterprise Investors, the Warsaw-based private equity and venture capital firm, is to invest €40m in the Polish wind farm sector over the next few years through a new vehicle called Wento. The vehicle is currently examining more than 12 projects and is in ‘advanced negotiations’ on three.

Enterprise Investors, the Warsaw-based private equity and venture capital firm, has launched a new vehicle called Wento that will be involved in the construction and financing of wind farms in Poland.

A statement from Enterprise Investors said Wento has recruited a group of “experienced managers” from the wind energy industry to select projects, coordinate due diligence, purchase shares in the projects, arrange bank financing and then supervise construction.

The equity needed to build the farms will be supplied by an Enterprise Investors-managed private equity fund, Polish Enterprise Fund VI (PEF VI), which closed on €658 million in 2006. The statement said PEF VI would invest “around €40 million” in the Polish wind energy industry “within the next few years”.

The statement added that Wento was currently examining “more than a dozen” wind farm projects and was in “advanced negotiations” and performing due diligence on three of these, which have a total output of 200 megawatts. The wind farms will “subsequently be sold to strategic or financial investors looking for stable, long-term profits”.

“Our analysis shows that the number of investors willing to engage equity to construct wind farms is currently insufficient and we want to fill this gap, at least in part,” said Michal Rusiecki, managing partner of Enterprise Investors, in the statement. “We believe that we can work with the developers to build wind farms with a total capacity of several hundred megawatts, thereby increasing the production of green energy in Poland.”

Rusiecki said Wento may consider entering other markets in Central and Eastern Europe in the future, “especially the Romanian wind energy market, which also appears to be very attractive for investors”.

Enterprise Investors, which has raised €1.7 billion since 1990, already has a track record in the Polish renewable energy sector. From 1997 to 2006, private equity funds managed by the firm funded and developed a start-up called Polish Energy Partners, a renewable energy firm which listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange in 2005.

The potential of the Polish market was recognised by London-listed infrastructure investor Impax Asset Management in October last year, when it made its debut investment in the country – a single, 6-megawatt wind asset. “We are pleased to move into Poland, a key target country, with an operating asset purchase,” said Impax head of private equity Peter Rossbach in a statement. “And we hope to add to this pilot effort in the coming 18 months with additional acquisitions.”