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Marguerite Fund Buys Into France’s Largest Solar Park

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(Corrects third paragraph to switch attribution on scale of project, fourth paragraph to show proper closing date and sixth paragraph to show the total target size for the fund. Story originally ran on Jan. 9.)

Jan. 11 (Bloomberg) -- An equity fund backed by the European Investment Bank and Germany’s KfW bought about a third of the largest solar project in France from EDF Energies Nouvelles SA.

The Luxembourg-based Marguerite Fund, which is also supported by four other European financial institutions, acquired 36 megawatts of capacity from the 115-megawatt Toul-Rosieres solar project in northeastern France, it said in an e-mailed statement today. The fund said it obtained financing from BNP Paribas SA and Credit Agricole S.A, without giving the purchase price.

The project, which will be completed in the third quarter, is the second-largest being built in Europe, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance data. Solarhybrid AG, a German developer, started to build a 123-megawatt solar park in Italy last month.

Project financing for the acquisition closed on Dec. 30 with more than 75 percent of gearing, William Pierson, partner and head of energy at the fund, said by phone. The debt was obtained “in a very short timeframe in a difficult market at reasonable terms,” he said. “Now there is further pressure on pricing.”

Energy Fund

The deal is the second investment from the fund, which raised 710 million euros ($906 million) in 2010 for energy, renewables and transport in Europe. It follows the purchase of about 9 percent of Thornton Bank, a wind farm off the Belgian coast, from the EDF SA unit in December.

Marguerite is seeking to raise funds from other institutional investors by June to reach a total size of 1.5 billion euros as part of the European Union’s efforts to derive 20 percent of its energy use from renewable sources by 2020.

The fund plans to invest a third of its equity in renewable energy projects in the region, Pierson said. It’s already in talks to invest in other solar parks in France and solar thermal projects in Spain, he said.

EDF EN’s Toul-Rosieres project will cover a former military air base near Nancy with one and a half million photovoltaic panels from U.S. manufacturer First Solar Inc.

The fund acquired the maximum size it could buy in the project, in which EDF will retain a “significant” part, Pierson said.

The largest plant in operation in France is the 67-megawatt Gabardan solar park in the southwest, which was completed by EDF in October.

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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