S. African Renewables Get $1.8 Billion From Standard Bank, China

Standard Bank Group Ltd., Africa’s largest lender, and its biggest shareholder Industrial & Commercial Bank of China underwrote 16.5 billion rand ($1.8 billion) of renewable-energy projects in South Africa.

The lenders backed six wind and 11 solar plants in the first two rounds of a five-round program, according to a statement e-mailed by Johannesburg-based Standard Bank. That’s almost 30 percent of the total funds needed for the two rounds.

South Africa, where chronic electricity shortages halted mines and factories in 2008 and where state-owned utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. still struggles to meet demand, has embarked on a program to boost power generation by awarding contracts to build wind, solar and biomass plants.

The portion funded by ICBC will vary depending on whether the projects employ Chinese staff and equipment, according to Alastair Campbell, executive vice president for power and infrastructure at Standard Bank. ICBC will lend as much as 80 percent of the senior debt requirement when there’s Chinese content, with Standard Bank providing the rest. Otherwise it will lend as much as 50 percent, Campbell said in an e-mail.

Standard Bank, in which ICBC holds a 20 percent stake, fell as much as 2.5 percent in Johannesburg trading, and was down 0.3 percent at 116.71 rand as of 4:16 p.m. local time.

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