Quercus and Foresight Boost Italian Renewables

Quercus Asset Selection Sarl, the Luxembourg based management company of the Quercus Renewable Energy Fund, a leading investor in the Italian photovoltaic market, has entered into a joint venture agreement with UK based Foresight Group to boost its investments in the Italian renewable energy market.

PRESS RELEASE

Quercus Asset Selection Sarl, the Luxembourg based management company of the Quercus Renewable Energy Fund, a leading investor in the Italian photovoltaic market, has entered into a joint venture agreement with UK based Foresight Group to boost its investments in the sector.

Quercus acquired a 50% stake in Foresight’s Luxembourg holding Foresight Lux Co 2, a company controlling 40% of ForVEI, a company set up by a group of investors with the advice of Foresight looking to acquire interests in Italian PV plants. The remaining 60 percent comes from VEI Capital, itself a venture between Palladio Finanziaria SpA, Assicurazioni Generali SpA (G), Intesa Sanpaolo, Veneto Banca SpA and Banca Popolare di Vicenza Scrl.

Immediately after the closing of the transaction between Quercus and Foresight, the ForVEI venture acquired three Italian solar plants with total capacity of 13 megawatts from Spain’s OPDE Group.

The 55 million-euro ($75 million) deal is the largest lease-financing arranged by a single bank for a solar deal in Italy. Two units of Milan-based Intesa Sanpaolo SpA (ISP) will own the solar parks for 18 years while ForVEI pays a monthly lease and earns guaranteed above-market rates for the power generated. The three plants have expected returns of 12 percent to 15 percent.

Italy has been the world’s most active solar market this year, connecting 6.5 gigawatts in solar photovoltaic projects, or three times more than Germany, to reach a total of 10 gigawatts, according to its renewable energy regulator, GSE.

Even with the tariff cuts, Italy has one of the highest feed-in tariffs in Europe. Feed-in tariffs, or FITs, are guaranteed above-market prices paid for electricity from renewable sources.

Under ForVEI’s agreement with OPDE, the venture might buy additional 20 megawatts of Italian solar farms developed by the Spanish company by the end of October.
Pietro Zerauschek, partner of Foresight Group and Head of its Italian solar team said: “ We are extremely satisfied that an agreement was reached with Quercus thus allowing the venture to further increase its capacity to purchase first quality solar plants in the Italian market. Size matters and we are confident that with the help of Quercus’ first class investment team we will be able to identify and acquire additional attractive projects”.

Quercus has also selected Foresight as its advisor in the acquisition and construction of Latina based8MW solar farm that was successfully connected to the grid on 31st August 2011.

Diego Biasi, Founding Partner and Portfolio Manager declared: “We are excited to have entered into a joint venture agreement with Foresight to expand our portfolios of investments in Italy by accessing first quality projects offering attractive returns to our investors”.

Simone Borla, Founding Partner, said that “the partnership with Foresight is a dramatic opportunity to enlarge the scope of our Private Equity investments beyond Italy to potentially include other opportunities like investments in the UK Biomass market”.

Notes to Editors

About Quercus Asset Selection
Quercus Asset Selection is a Luxembourg based management company specialized in Private Equity investments. The company was founded in 2010 by Simone Borla and Diego Biasi in partnership with Giuseppe Stefanel, the controlling shareholder of Milan listed Stefanel Group. Mr Stefanel is also the seed investor of Quercus Renewable Energy Fund, a Luxembourg based SICAV-SIF regulated by the CSSF, whose core business is to invest in Italian Photovoltaic plants. The Fund acquired an interest in 8 plants for circa 37MW of power and has a pipeline of over 35MW of projects to be completed before year end. The Company is planning the launch of a second Fund investing in renewable energy projects on a pan-European basis. Quercus Asset Selection is part of a larger group including London based Quercus Investment Partners LLP, an FSA regulated firm offering amongst other things advisory services to Institutional clients. www.quercusassetselection.com

About Foresight Group
Foresight is an independent alternative asset manager, which focuses primarily on investments in unquoted UK and European companies and projects and offers investors exclusive access to attractive income and growth opportunities. Foresight manages £400 million across a number of funds, including Limited Partnerships, Enterprise Investment Schemes (EIS) and Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs).

Investments made by Foresight in the environmental infrastructure sector have included Crumb Rubber, a tyre recycling company; Vertal, a food waste recycling company; 2K Manufacturing, which manufactures a plywood substitute from waste plastics; Closed Loop Recycling, the UK’s first recycler of waste plastic bottles back into food packaging material; O-Gen, which generates renewable electricity from biomass; and Land Energy, a producer of wood pellets for sustainable heating in homes and schools.

Foresight is also a leading investor in renewable energy from solar PV and has financed projects with total investment of over 150 million pounds ($234.7 million) in mainland Europe and the UK. In 2010 Foresight launched the UK’s first solar VCT fund, which has already attracted subscriptions of over 20 million pounds ($31.3 million) from private investors.

Louise Barnett
Intelligent Profile
Tel: 01892 769952
Mobile: 07713 742685
Email: louise@intelligentprofile.com