Big Canadian money snatches up Nautilus Solar

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It’s no secret that solar plants and the predictable cash flows that they generate for long-term projects have become a hot commodity among investors. But the companies that develop and manage these projects are also increasingly being bought up by bigger players.

Yesterday Nautilus Solar Energy announced that it has been acquired by Power Energy Corporation, a subsidiary of conglomerate Power Corporation of Canada (PEC), which brought in around US$36 billion in revenues in 2018. The company was previously owned by its management and Virgo Investment Group.

“Our investment into Nautilus is truly aligned with our philosophy of supporting entrepreneurial teams in achieving our long-term value creation model,” stated Pierre-Olivier Perras, president of PEC. “We have the highest confidence in the team’s ability to lead the company through the evolving community solar sector.”

Nautilus Solar is one of those solar companies that appears to do a little bit of everything, listing “acquisition, development, construction, finance and asset management” among its activities. The company has been involved in 19 solar projects totaling 144 MW over the last two and a half years, and secured $210 million in construction capital and $421 million in permanent financing to support these projects.

Nautilus will continue to serve as the developer and asset manager of Virgo Investment’s 80 MW of commercial and industrial and community solar in eight states. Management is also not out of the game; Executives are shuffling positions, but CEO Jim Rice, President Laura Stern and Chief Operating Officer Jeffrey Chang will still lead the company.

 

Emphasis on community solar

In the press release announcing the acquisition Nautilus puts an emphasis on its work in the community solar sector. In June the company completed a 2.8 MW community solar project in Upstate New York, the first of three in the service area of Orange and Rockland, and expects to put the next two projects online in Q3.

The company has acquired at least 31 MW of community solar projects in Maryland, Minnesota and Rhode Island so far this year, and expects to do more now that it is backed by the big money. “PEC’s acquisition will not only provide Nautilus with competitive capital, but also the capabilities to accelerate growth to achieve greater scale in the market,” notes Jim Rice, who now shares CEO duties at Nautilus with Laura Stern.