The merger between Sydney-based (ASX-listed) renewables company CBD Energy and US-based (Nasdaq-listed) rooftop PV specialist Westinghouse Solar, first flagged in February this year, is going ahead, having been approved by the boards of both companies. The deal, which was jointly announced this morning, will see CBD shareholders take 85 per cent of the merged entity, leaving Westinghouse Solar shareholders with the remaining 15 per cent. It is expected to be finalised in the third quarter of 2012, subject to shareholder approval.
CBD described the move as an “important step” in the company’s strategy of “growing a portfolio of revenue streams diversified across profitable customer segments, geographies and technologies.” CBD also said the move should result in improved liquidity, with the company planning to apply for listing on the Nasdaq, “because it is host to the world’s largest collection of cleantech public companies and attracts a corresponding level of investor attention.”
It’s a strategy CBD CEO Gerry McGowan explained in finer detail back when the merger was first announced in New York, telling RenewEconomy that the company was attracted to Westinghouse Solar – a 10-year-old spin-off of the famous appliance brand, which specialises in designing and manufacturing PV panels – because of its innovative technology (it was the first to develop AC panels) and its niche position in the US solar PV market, which is forecast by industry analysts to grow three-fold to more than 6GW a year by 2015.
McGowan said a listing on the Nasdaq would give the company much greater access to capital to support its ambitious international growth, with wind and solar projects planned in Europe, Asia, Australia and now the US. “The US market is really buoyant,” he said then. “The important thing is that we are moving more and more offshore. We’ve been held back by a lack of access to capital, but this gives us a listing in a much more buoyant energy sector. We’re very excited by the opportunity.”
In its statement today, CBD said it expected to leverage the relationship with Westinghouse Solar to provide new opportunities for distributing energy efficiency products and services, produced by the company’s Industrial Energy Efficiency Division, and to create new outlets and applications for the its proprietary energy storage technology. Whether or not this means taking advantage of the iconic Westinghouse brand and renaming CBD, as McGowan flagged back in February, remains to be seen.
The two companies say they have already begun exploring the development of commercial projects and partnerships in North America, and that CBD has already begun introducing the Westinghouse Solar products to its Australian distribution partners. Westinghouse says its integrated AC panels reduce the number of components by 80 per cent and labour costs by 50 per cent. ”Westinghouse Solar’s integrated AC and DC designs are quite innovative, and could reduce installed costs for many of our customers and business partners in Australia, Europe and elsewhere,” McGowan said in a statement.
Meanwhile, CBD also has plans to capitalise on its European pipeline, having announced just yesterday that it had closed a $US25 million revolving finance facility that is says will allow it to use a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) model to develop and deliver “turn-key projects” to institutional buyers of renewable assets. When fully utilised, the company says the credit facility should be sufficient to support the development and sale of solar projects totalling more than $35 million in revenue per quarter.