AC Energy buys out partner in Australia for US$243 M

Published October 19, 2021, 4:12 PM

by Myrna M. Velasco

Ayala-led AC Energy Corporation (ACEN) is acquiring for US$243.3 million the equity stake of its partner UPC Renewables Asia Pacific Holdings in their Australian corporate vehicle for renewable energy (RE) projects.

In a statement to the media, the Ayala firm said it will acquire the 51.6 percent shareholdings in its joint venture with Hong Kong-based UPC Renewables. The buy-in has already greenlighted by the company’s board of directors.

“This transaction will raise ACEN’s ownership in the renewable development platform for 100 percent,” the company said, adding that ACEN will be carrying out the equity acquisition via its subsidiary AC Renewables International Pte. Ltd.

Aside from UPC Renewables, the equity acquisition also includes the shareholdings of Anton Rohner, the chief executive officer of UPCAC Renewables Australia.

As agreed in the deal, the sellers – UPC Renewables and Rohner – will “subscribe up to 942 million common shares of ACEN with a subscription price of P11.32 per share, subject to adjustments.”

The Ayala firm further specified “the acquisition is subject to satisfaction of agreed conditions precedent, and consents and regulatory approvals, including the consent and non-objection of the Foreign Investment Review Board of Australia.”

According to Eric Francia, the deal “marks a strategic pivot for ACEN, as the company embarks on its first wholly owned development and operations platform outside of the Philippines.”

He added the company remains “excited to scale up investment in our Australian platform, as we expect the country to accelerate its energy transition.”

Brian Caffyn, chief executive officer and founder of UPC Renewables, noted that the two companies had their partnership flourishing over the years, and its shares’ divestment in the Australian corporate vehicle is seen as an “opportunity to integrate the UPC Australia platform in ACEN’s growing RE portfolio in the region.”

As chronicled by Patrice Clausse, chief operating officer of AC Energy International, “UPC Renewables was one of our early partners when ACEN was starting in the power sector,” and he noted that the way forward for the Ayala firm will be to “continue to grow the company’s footprint in Australia.”

Prior to UPC Renewables stake unloading, the ACEN-UPC Renewables tandem was already advancing on the implementation phase of their 720-megawatt New England solar farm project in Uralla, New South Wales.

That solar power venture will have 400-megawatt capacity in the first phase and this is targeted commercially on-line by July next year; while the second phase of 320MW capacity will be on stream at the end of 2023.

The solar installation’s first phase had been funded by three lenders – namely: Westpac; Commonwealth Bank of Australia; and Bank of China; while the project’s engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor is Green Light Contractors, a subsidiary of Spanish firm Elecnor.