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Sun shines on contract signing for three Qld solar farms

Sun shines on contract signing for three Qld solar farms

Simon De Young

A transaction between Foresight Solar Fund Limited (FSFL) and Canadian Solar over three renewable energy sites has been described by the lawyers involved as “highly complex”.

Firms: Baker McKenzie (Foresight Solar Fund Limited); Norton Rose Fulbright (Canadian Solar)

Deal: Binding contracts have been entered for the acquisition of shares relating to three Queensland solar farms by Foresight Solar Fund Limited (FSFL) from Canadian Solar.

Value: Undisclosed

Area: M&A

Key players: The Bakers team advising FSFL was led by partner Simon De Young (pictured). He was assisted by John Walker, Robert Gough, Aylin Cunsolo, Lauren Kirkwood, Sarah Merrett, Mike Webb, Janet Cho and Joanna Kuok.

The NRF team advising Canadian Solar was led by Simon Currie and Chris Mitchell. Both men were supported by special consultant Kelly Davies, special counsel Claire Forster, associates Joanna Zhou and Chanel Mercurio and Emile Goldman.

Deal significance:

FSFL is part of the Foresight Group, a British investment manager. This latest deal will bring the group’s portfolio of Australian solar sites up to five, with a combined energy generation capacity of 252MW.

Foresight director Carly Magee described the deal with Canadian Solar, which was ranked top three for solar module production in 2016, as a “milestone transaction”.

FSFL’s proposed investment in three solar farms owned by Canadian Solar has been signed off but remains subject to conditions. Until such time, Canadian Solar will retain a short-term equity interest in two of the solar farm projects based in Queensland, which are currently under construction.

Queensland’s Longreach project is 17MW, while the Oakey 1 and Oakey 2 solar farms are expected to generate 30MW and 70MW respectively.

Bakers lead partner Simon De Young said his team was delighted to be able to assist FSFL on what was a “highly complex transaction”.

“This is the third Australian transaction for Foresight, following the recent acquisition of the 110MW Bannerton project in Victoria and, earlier in 2017, the acquisition of the 25MW Barcaldine Solar Farm in Queensland, with Baker McKenzie having advised Foresight on each of these transactions,” Mr De Young said.

A statement issued by NRF said that construction of the Longreach and Oakey 1 sites is expected to be finalised in 2018. Both solar farms will also be connected to the electricity grid sometime next year, the firm said.

According to Simon Currie, the global head of energy at NRF and lead advisor to Canadian Solar, partnering with strong capital providers such as Foresight was a model he expected to become more prevalent in the Australian energy market.

“It was a pleasure to assist Canadian Solar with achieving this milestone for this portfolio of solar projects. The transaction is further evidence of the attractiveness of high-quality Australian renewable energy projects for foreign investors,” NRF special counsel Chris Mitchell said.

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