(Repeats March 9 story with no changes.)
By Gram Slattery
SANTIAGO, March 9 SunPower Corp has put
a large solar plant in Chile up for sale, according to two
sources with knowledge of process, as the second largest U.S.
solar panel maker seeks to cut costs across the globe.
SunPower, majority-owned by French energy company Total
, has put the 100-megawatt El Pelicano solar plant near
the city of La Serena on the block, according to the sources,
who requested anonymity as the process has not yet been
The sale process for the plant, which is under construction
and due to be completed this year, is in its preliminary stages
and the sources did not say if SunPower had a target price.
The project was originally funded by $222 million of debt
from three Asian banks, one European bank, and one Chilean bank.
It was not clear how much equity SunPower had invested in the
project, though solar projects in Chile typically require a
30-45 percent equity stake.
That would mean the plant will likely fetch a price in the
low hundreds of millions assuming SunPower, which declined to
comment, does not take a haircut.
The project is expected to attract a wide range of buyers,
according to the sources. Candidates include Chile's
conventional energy companies, such as Engie Energia Chile
and Colbun, which have diversified into solar
energy in recent years, they said.
Renewable energy companies already operating in Chile, such
as France's EDF Energies Nouvelles, are also seen as
potential candidates, according to the sources.
El Pelicano has a 15-year agreement to provide over half of
the energy needs of capital Santiago's metro system, the second
largest in Latin America after Mexico City's. That agreement,
inked in 2016, represented the first time a major metropolitan
transit system had agreed to obtain the majority of its energy
from solar resources.
The sale process comes amid speculation that Chile's
renewables sector is on the verge of major consolidation.
In recent years, a number of small renewables companies have
flocked to Chile amid high power prices and excellent solar
resources. But overcapacity issues and weakening demand are
encouraging consolidation, with larger players such as British
private equity firm Actis and Colbun beginning to buy up
SunPower said in December it would lay off about 25 percent
of its workforce, or 2,500 employees, amid a cost-cutting plan
designed to more than halve its capital budget.
In February, 8point3 Energy Partners, a type of
partnership between SunPower and U.S. solar company First Solar
called a yieldco, waived exclusive first-offer rights
on El Pelicano, opening the door to third party buyers.
(Reporting by Gram Slattery; Editing by Sandra Maler)