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BrightSource Seeking Up to $182.5 Million in Solar-Thermal IPO

BrightSource Energy Inc., the developer of solar-thermal power plants, is seeking as much as $182.5 million in an initial public offering.

The company is offering 6.9 million shares at $21 to $23 apiece, according to a regulatory filing today. The stock would be listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol BRSE. The offering is expected to be priced on April 11, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

BrightSource, based in Oakland, California, plans to use proceeds from the IPO to develop additional solar-thermal power plants, which use mirrors to focus the sun’s energy on boilers that make steam to drive turbines. The company has 13 contracts to sell power from projects totaling 2.4 gigawatts of capacity to electric utilities of PG&E Corp. and Edison International, according to the filing.

BrightSource is vying with other developers including Abengoa SA, Areva SA, Acciona SA, Siemens AG and ABB Ltd. to commercialize its technology, which uses mirrors arranged around a central tower. Other solar-thermal developers are using so-called parabolic trough systems, with curved mirrors that focus sunlight on an overhead tube that contains a heat transfer fluid and is routed to steam generators.

The company began building its first power plant in southern California in 2010, and it’s expected to enter operation in 2013. The project is backed by a $1.6 billion loan guarantee from the U.S. Energy Department, as well as equity investments from Google Inc. and NRG Energy Inc.

Alstom’s Role

BrightSource said Alstom SA, an existing investor, and Caithness Energy LLC’s development unit agreed to purchase $65 million and $10 million worth of the company’s stock, respectively, in a concurrent private placement.

Alstom, BrightSource’s largest backer currently with a 19.9 percent stake, would own 21.9 percent after the IPO and private placement. Its other backers include Draper Fisher Jurvetson with a 5.9 percent stake, VantagePoint Capital Patners with a 24 percent stake, and Morgan Stanley with a 9.4 percent stake.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Citigroup Inc., and Deutsche Bank AG are leading the proposed offering. The underwriters have an option to purchase an additional 1.035 million shares.

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