France is the fourth biggest producer of solar photovoltaic (PV) power in Europe, with current capacity standing at 6.1 GW as at the end of 2016.
However, although the French market is substantial, it is also fragmented, both in terms of capacity and numbers of small and medium sized developers.
As the supply of PV power plants has increased in France, so have the drivers for consolidation, particularly in cases where plants have demonstrated stable operations and established a strong track record of energy production.
Sonnedix is an Independent PV Power Producer with operations in France, Spain, Italy, the UK, Japan, Thailand, the US, Chile and South Africa. In 2015, Sonnedix decided to refinance part of its existing portfolio in France consisting of six ground-mounted PV plants with a total installed capacity of around 57 MW - enough electricity to power a small city of just over 50,000 people. Sonnedix approached MUFG to refinance the existing individual debt of each asset on a portfolio basis. The intention was to unlock value and increase the efficiency of Sonnedix's capital deployment.
Each asset had demonstrated good performance since its respective commissioning as a result of good operation and maintenance as well as efficient asset management. As a consequence, the transaction attracted significant interest from the market.
In recognition of its expertise in project finance and in the renewable energy sector in particular, MUFG was mandated as a joint lead arranger. MUFG subsequently took an active role in the banking syndicate to optimise the delivery of the c. EUR 200m transaction, achieving financial close in December 2015, only three months after being mandated.
This transaction allowed Sonnedix to consolidate its position as an important stakeholder in the French renewables sector as well as to recycle some capital for future acquisitions. In December 2015, it acquired an additional portfolio of 23.6 MW in France which it was able to refinance in March 2016, in a similar transaction, again in collaboration MUFG. Globally, as it pursues its growth strategy, Sonnedix will be able to leverage MUFG's international network and expertise.
Andread Mustad, Sonnedix Group CEO, said:
"When we embarked on the refinancing of our French portfolio, we were eager to establish a relationship with MUFG. Given that we have an ambitious global pipeline, we naturally wanted to work with one of the world's leading project finance teams. We were not disappointed. The structuring role taken by MUFG and the team's ability to bring along other world-class banking groups for liquidity purposes was absolutely critical to the success of the refinancing."