Tiger invests $80m in Sunlight Financial

The New-York based firm has led a $300m capital injection in Sunlight to become the rooftop solar financing business's majority shareholder.

Sunlight Financial, a company founded by Hudson Clean Energy Partners chief executive (CEO) Neil Z. Auerbach to provide long-term finance for the installation of residential rooftop solar systems, has received a series of capital investments totalling $300 million led by an $80 million investment from Tiger Infrastructure Partners Fund (Tiger Infrastructure).

Sunlight plans to direct the capital towards growing its business platform and increasing access to lower cost financing alternatives for residential rooftop solar assets, according to a related release. 

Of the $300 million in capital investments, $80 million came from Tiger Infrastructure. The remaining $220 million was sourced through a new senior secured credit facility of up to $120 million designed for longer-term loan products with CIT Energy Finance acting as lead arranger, as well as through new loan origination programs with over $100 million of available capital from existing and new financial institutions designed for shorter-term loan products. 

Tiger Infrastructure CEO and managing partner Emil W. Henry, Jr., said the decision to invest was the culmination of his company's search in the residential solar sector for the “best in class platform and partners”. 

“No other investment opportunity matched the attributes presented by Sunlight, including: a sophisticated and talented management team with multiple strategic commercial relationships; an existing business with substantial momentum; and a like-minded and experienced partner in Hudson who has similar experience helping companies grow.” 

Auerbach said in a statement that he believes Tiger Infrastructure's involvement will catalyse Sunlight's next phase of success as “a standalone and independently capitalised industry player”.

“Sunlight represents a unique and independent solar financing platform with a very broad suite of loan products to best serve homeowners and channel partners in the marketplace,” said Auerbach. “We are pleased to welcome Tiger as our partner. From the outset of our conversations, Tiger proved to be thoughtful and collaborative, and brings the skills and expertise to add value to Sunlight.” 

Auerbach, who moves into a new position as executive chairman of Sunlight, will be joined on the board by his colleague at Hudson Wilson Chang. 

Sunlight last week also appointed Matthew R. Potere as the company's newest CEO. Potere will lead the company's existing executive team, which includes solar industry veterans chief compliance officers Josh M. Goldberg and President Michael G. Ruehlman. Potere will hold a position on the Sunlight board. 

“Sunlight is fortunate to have Tiger and Hudson as value-added sponsors as we prepare to deploy our capital and enhance our product offerings to best serve our customers and channel partners,” said Potere at the time of the announcement. “With this substantial round of financing, our independent and user-friendly platform is positioned to expand rapidly into one of the nation's leading providers of residential solar finance, with a diverse set of channel partners and credit-worthy homeowners.” 

Tiger Infrastructure is an independent private equity firm focused on investments in the $15 million to 75 million range in mid-market infrastructure assets and businesses in North America and Europe. The fund is backed by hedge fund billionaire Julian Roberts, with significant investors including Roberts-led firm Tiger Management and the Ziff family. 

The firm's portfolio includes Tiger Cool Express, a provider of intermodal cooling solutions for commodities; data transport provider Hudson Fiber Network; American Natural, a developer of combined compressed natural gas and traditional fuelling stations; modular data center designer and developer Etix Everywhere; and Summit Brazil Renewables, the owner of a controlling stake in corn-ethanol plant developer F&S Agri Solutions.