Khazanah eyes SunEdison’s solar assets

Maybank Research: Khazanah Nasional unlikely to privatise UEM Sunrise

The Indian projects also draw interest from Hinduja Group

MUMBAI: Hinduja Group, the industrial conglomerate controlled by four billionaire brothers, and Malaysian sovereign fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd are among parties vying for SunEdison Inc's Indian solar assets, people familiar with the matter said.

The Indian projects have also drawn interest from Mumbai- based Tata Power Co., domestic clean power developer Greenko Energies Pvt. and Singapore's Sembcorp Industries Ltd, according to the people.

A deal could value the operations at about US$700mil including debt, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.

SunEdison, which is credited with bringing Indian solar tariffs to a record low last year, bid aggressively to win contracts in the country during a US$3.1bil buying spree that left it overloaded with borrowings. The US clean-power giant filed for bankruptcy protection in April, listing US$16.1bil of liabilities.

“It is an ideal opportunity for large players with the financial capacity and desire to immediately ramp up their India business,” Vinay Rustagi, managing director of solar research firm Bridge to India, said by e-mail. “SunEdison was an early mover in the Indian solar industry, and their project pipeline is very attractive to potential acquirers.”

Suitors for the company's Indian assets haven’t made a final decision, and there's no certainty the talks will result in a transaction, the people said. SunEdison could pick a winner in about a month, and may prefer bidders that already have a presence in India, according to one of the people.

A representative for Hinduja didn’t immediately respond to e-mailed queries. SunEdison Asia-Pacific President Pashupathy Gopalan and spokesmen for Khazanah and Sembcorp Industries declined to comment. A representative for Greenko said founder Anil Kumar Chalamalasetty wasn’t immediately available to comment. Tata Power said in an e-mailed statement it is “evaluating various options to create shareholder value,” declining to comment further.

Suitors may be attracted to the SunEdison assets because of their signed power purchase agreements, according to Ashish Sethia, head of Asia-Pacific gas and power analysis at Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Solar tariffs for these projects now look “very attractive” as equipment prices have continued to come down, Bridge to India's Rustagi said.

Closely-held Hinduja Group, founded in India in 1914, has interests in automobiles, finance, media and energy on several continents. It is controlled by four brothers, including Hinduja Group chairman Srichand Hinduja, who have a combined net worth of US$14.4bil, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Co-chairman Gopichand Hinduja said in an interview last month that Hinduja Group is looking at distressed assets in India's infrastructure and power sectors.

The conglomerate's Hinduja National Power Corp. unit is setting up a 1,040-megawatt thermal power plant in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, according to the group website.

Tata Power, controlled by the US$103bil Tata conglomerate, has an installed gross electricity generation capacity of 9.2 gigawatts, its website shows. The company agreed in June to buy a 1.1-gigawatt solar and wind portfolio from Welspun Renewable Energy Pvt. in India's biggest clean-energy deal.

Closely-held Greenko raised US$230mil in June selling stock to Singapore state investment company GIC Pte and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority to help triple its renewable-energy capacity. – Bloomberg

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