Foresight Raises 150 Million Pounds in U.K. Solar IPO

Foresight Group LLP, a London-based asset manager, raised 150 million pounds ($242 million) in an initial public offering for a fund focusing on solar power investments, Britain’s second to target the technology.

The fund offered shares at 1 pound each to investors who ordered 150 million shares, Foresight said today in a statement. The proceeds were lower than the 200 million to 250 million pounds targeted. The shares will start trading under the ticker FSFL in London on Oct. 29.

The share offering is the U.K.’s fourth clean-energy IPO this year and the second to zero in on Britain’s growing market for large-scale solar parks after Bluefield Partners LLP (BSIF)’s 130 million-pound placement in July. The fund plans to invest in ground-mounted photovoltaic projects that benefit from government support, offering a steady income stream.

That the fund didn’t raise as much as it hoped “could reflect a bit of indigestion after seven months in which U.K.- quoted renewable energy project funds have raised a total of $1.3 billion,” Angus McCrone, chief editor for Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said by e-mail. It may also reflect “some nervousness about future government policy towards large ground-mounted PV projects, Foresight’s chosen asset type.”

A record number of large-scale solar parks have been built this year across the country, prompting calls from ministers for local authorities to limit approvals. U.K. solar capacity may exceed 3 gigawatts by the end of the year, according to Foresight, which is based in Sevenoaks, southeast England. Installed capacity was about 2.1 gigawatts at the end of 2012.

Buying Projects

The new fund aims to use the proceeds to buy eight U.K. projects with a combined capacity of 145.4 megawatts, including two of the country’s largest solar parks. It has committed to buy the 32-megawatt Wymeswold plant, already in operation, and the 35.5-megawatt Kencot project, the prospectus shows.

Renewable energy companies are taking advantage of investors’ thirst for income as the Bank of England keeps interest rates at record lows. Greencoat U.K. Wind Plc (UKW) raised 260 million pounds in March and The Renewables Infrastructure Group Ltd. (TRIG), which targets both wind and solar projects, raised 300 million pounds in July.

Infinis Energy Plc, the clean energy arm of Terra Firma Capital Partners Ltd., is also seeking to list in London in November, it said on Oct. 21.

To contact the reporter on this story: Marc Roca in London at mroca6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net

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