Monday, January 25, 2010

Better Place secures $350 million series B round led by HSBC Group; electric car start-up valued at $1.25 billion

Shai Agassi and the team at Better Place have done it again: almost two years to the day after announcing its first car partnership and its first country deployment in Israel, Better Place today announced that it has signed an agreement with an HSBC-led investor consortium for new equity financing of $350 million. The deal marks one of the largest clean-tech investments in history and values Better Place at $1.25 billion.

This Series B equity financing round features participation from new investors including HSBC, Morgan Stanley Investment Management, and Lazard Asset Management. These investors will join existing Series A investors including Israel Corp., VantagePoint Venture Partners, Ofer Hi-Tech Holdings, Morgan Stanley Principal Investments, Maniv Energy Capital, and Israel Cleantech Ventures, among others, as shareholders of Better Place. For HSBC, which led the round with an investment of $125 million, the deal represents one of the largest financial investments of its kind by HSBC.

As part of the deal, Kevin Adeson, HSBC Head of Global Capital Financing, will join the Better Place Board of Directors, and HSBC will own approximately 10% of the company’s shares.

“Today marks the end of an extensive process with the outcome being a decision by one of the world’s largest, most conservative banks, HSBC, to take the validating step of investing in a private company intent on bringing innovation to the trillion-dollar automotive and energy industries,” said Shai Agassi, Better Place Founder and Chief Executive Officer. “The strong investment commitment and global relationships that HSBC, Morgan Stanley Investment Management and Lazard Asset Management bring to the table combined with the continuing confidence from our original investors enables us to scale up globally and execute against our plan.”

In welcoming Adeson to the Board, Idan Ofer, Chairman of Better Place and Israel Corp., remarked, “Kevin and the entire HSBC team will bring more than just capital to the table. We expect that HSBC will help us to scale in Europe, China and beyond, and we’re already seeing the value that they are bringing to the company and the Board.”

Stuart Gulliver, Executive Director, HSBC Holdings and Chief Executive of Global Banking and Markets, said, “We believe the switch from internal combustion engine vehicles to electric vehicles will create future growth opportunities in the auto and utility industries, and we are delighted to take the opportunity of investing in Better Place to put HSBC at the heart of these developments. Better Place is a private-sector solution to the issue of infrastructure provision for electric cars and can succeed without government subsidy and without sacrificing consumer expectations for personal mobility.”

Better Place’s new board member, Kevin Adeson of HSBC, commented: “We are confident that Better Place has the technical and commercial solutions to allow for the mass adoption of electric cars in the near term. The Better Place switchable battery solution, which addresses the range limitation of fixed battery electric cars, will offer the consumer an affordable and attractive alternative to current combustion engine and hybrid vehicles. We expect the Better Place model to be widely adopted across many countries and cities, particularly in those markets with policies strongly favoring electric vehicle adoption.”

The financing allows Better Place to expand its geographic footprint while continuing to execute against its committed R&D and deployment milestones. The company intends to expand into markets where the business model economics and investor returns are optimized, notably in Europe and Asia.

Better Place says that it continues to meet its timetable for Israel and Denmark launch plans for the end of 2011 when the first Renault switchable battery electric cars hit the road. Better Place also will continue to execute against its strategy of early deployment projects in Australia and select North American markets a few months after the Israel and Denmark launches as planned.

Additionally, the company’s R&D team is currently testing each element of the Better Place solution in real-life scenarios around the world in a multi-phase cycle, beginning with the company’s managed EV network in Denmark, which began last December, and a Tokyo electric taxi project with battery switch station, which kicks off in April this year. These and other development milestones lead up to full-scale trials in the second half of 2010 and commercial launch in 2011.

Agassi added: “Our technology and solutions, together with our strong partnership with Renault, provide us at least a two-year time advantage over all other alternative energy vehicle approaches. Our solution is the only one that can scale to decrease countries’ oil consumption and significantly reduce emissions, while providing consumers with electric cars that are more convenient and affordable than internal combustion engine cars.”

“Better Place is a huge experiment in how you sell and fuel vehicles, and these investors are becoming convinced this will make money,” Rod Lache, an analyst at Deutsche Bank told the New York Times. “It is a financial validation. Now we need to see technical validation and consumer validation.”

The transaction is subject to approval by antitrust regulators and other customary closing conditions and is expected to close in the first quarter of 2010.

Related Posts:

Better Place unveils battery switch technology in Japan

Better Place applauds Hawaii's electric car legislation

Shai Agassi named to Time 100 list of world's most influential people

Better Place and Haifa to cooperate on electric car infrastructure

Better Place raises €103 million, names new Danish CEO

Better Place and Hawaii to partner on electric car project

Deustche Bank: Project Better Place has "the potential to eliminate the gasoline engine"

Better Place appoints Israel CEO, declares Israel as primary R&D center

Shai Agassi unveils Project Better Place electric car

Israel to adopt electric cars produced by Renault-Nissan and Project Better Place

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Arad Technologies wins lucractive water metering deal in India

Arad Technologies, a Yokneam, Israel-based wireless water meter manufacturer, and Luxembourg-based meter maker Actaris Metering Systems were jointly awarded a deal to provide 150,000 water meters to the city of Mumbai, India according to Globes.

Citing the Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute, Globes reports that the deal is part of a $128 million project to install 1.2 million water meters in Mumbai, though contracts for the remainder of the project have not been distributed. Arad and Actaris, however, are expected to win the follow-on tenders, because of logistical difficulties in coordinating different meter systems and technologies in a single municipal network.

Arad Technologies—a subsidiary of Tel-Aviv stock exchange listed water measuring technologies manufacturer the Arad Group —specializes in Web-based automatic meter reading technology for municipal water networks, and also has expertise in electric and gas meters. According to Arad Technologies, its products help to reduce operating costs, allow for more accurate measurements, and increase the lifetime of meters for its customers.

According to a report in Reuters, Arad Technologies sold more than $100 million in water meters in 2008 and is developing a fly-by system using small pilotless aircraft to collect data from water maters in real time.

Arad Technologies participated in the tender through the Export Institute and the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor's Foreign Trade Administration and Israel NewTech program for promoting the water technology and renewable energy industries.

Arad Technologies president Dan Winter said, "Winning this tender is a breakthrough for us, which opens a new market that is full of opportunities. Arad is in the final stages of two other tenders in India, and in view of the heavy demand, we are considering moving some production there."

Actaris is a subsidiary of Itron (Nasdaq:ITRI), which offers products and services including metering, data collection, and software to utilities worldwide in the energy and water markets

Related Posts:

India, Israel to collaborate on cleantech

Granite Hacarmel to invest in Indian renewable energy projects

Mekorot to develop water infrastructure in India

Sunday, January 10, 2010

HelioFocus raises $10m from China's Sanhua and IC Green Energy

HelioFocus Ltd., an Israel-based solar thermal systems start-up, has raised more than $10 million from China's Zhejiang Sanhua Co. and existing investor IC Green Energy.

HelioFocus announced the investment last week at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, where HelioFocus is developing its solar thermal technology to boost electricity production of existing power plants.

HelioFocus CEO Ory Zik said Sanhua, the Chinese maker of appliance components whose stock is traded on the Shenzhen stock exchange, would be not just a financial investor in the company, but will also produce some solar thermal components.

"We will be able to reduce costs and move relatively quickly to manufacturing," Zik told Reuters. "Components that can be made at lower cost in China will be produced there."

Sanhua, which will hold 30 percent of HelioFocus, will invest $9.25 million directly in the company and will acquire $1.25 million worth of shares from its founders.

IC Green Energy, the renewable energy investment arm of holding company Israel Corp, is the largest shareholder in HelioFocus with a 40 percent stake. It will invest $2.3 million in HelioFocus alongside Sanhua's investment.

The rest of HelioFocus is held by workers and management, including Sass Somekh, Co-Chairman of HelioFocus and Founder of Musea Ventures.

In 2008, HelioFocus raised a $10 million first round of financing from IC Green Energy, and the company is also a recipient of an $800,000 BIRD Foundation grant. The current investment from Sanhua and IC Green Energy values HelioFocus at $45 million.

Zik said HelioFocus, whose system converts the sun's rays into hot air to produce electricity, will release its first product in 2012 and is working on a pilot project in Israel. Funds raised from Sanhua will be used by HelioFocus to continue its research.

"We believe that the thermo-solar market will grow significantly, together with the rapid global development and ongoing legislation in the clean energy market," Yom Tov Samia, Co-Chairman of HelioFocus and president and CEO of IC Green Energy, said in a statement.

Jacky Eldan, Israeli consul general in China, said the door opened by Sanhua will pave the way for more cooperation and investments of Chinese companies in Israel.

HelioFocus' financing announcement is the latest in a series of successes for Israeli solar thermal companies. Siemens AG bought Israel-based Solel Solar Systems Ltd. for about $418 million in October 2009, AORA Solar raised $5 million in February 2009, and BrightSource Energy, which conducts R&D through subsidiary BrightSource Industries Israel, has announced a series of mega projects in the U.S. over the past year

Congrulations to Ory Zik and the rest of the team at HelioFocus!

Related Posts:

DOE awards grant to HelioFocus

IC Green Energy invests in HelioFocus

HelioFocus orders microturbines for concentrated solar power systems

IC Green Energy and Yom Tov Samia