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RWE takes minority stake in Conergy-Reuters

(Reuters) – Germany’s second-biggest utility RWE has bought a minority stake in solar group Conergy, hoping to expand its foothold in the embattled solar industry after having missed the trend for years.

The announcement follows last year’s joint deal to lease out solar systems for a monthly fee, hoping commercial clients would install the technology on factories, warehouses and offices to lower their energy bills.

“Having worked with Conergy successfully in Europe, we are pleased to be supporting the group’s worldwide expansion,” Andree Stracke, board member of RWE Supply & Trading, the utility’s trading arm, said in a statement.

No details on the size of the stake were disclosed but Conergy said RWE had made the single biggest investment in a $45 million funding round.
RWE is desperately looking for new ways to grow, after ultra-low wholesale power prices and a boom in renewable energy capacity has transformed the European energy sector and sent profits at the large established utilities into a tailspin.

Majority-owned by Miami-based asset manager Kawa Capital Management, Conergy made nearly $500 million in revenues last year, with earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of less than $10 million.

Conergy, once Europe’s largest solar company by sales, expects revenues to grow this year to $700 million.

“We look forward to using this capital to develop more projects with new and existing partners in the solar industry as our global pipeline approached 4 gigawatt,” Conergy’s Chief Executive Andrew de Pass said.