Friday, September 4, 2009

Siemens, Areva, Alstom bidding for Israeli solar firm Solel

Siemens AG, Areva SA and Alstom SA, three of Europe’s largest engineering companies, are competing for control of Solel Solar Systems Ltd., as demand for renewable energy rises, according to a report from Bloomberg.

Solel, based in Beit Shemesh, Israel, is a leading developer of utility-scale solar thermal power plants. The bids from Siemens, Areva and Alstom may value Solel at $300 million to $400 million, said Bloomberg's sources, who declined to be identified because talks are private. Shikun & Binui Ltd., an Israeli real-estate company controlled by the Arison Group, is also weighing a bid, according to a source. The winner may be picked as early as this month if they can agree on price, two sources told Bloomberg.

“Engineering companies such as Siemens, ABB, GE or Alstom will in the long term need to compensate for declining orders in their conventional power generation businesses, making renewable energy strategically very interesting for them,” said Stephan Wulf, who analyzes renewable energy companies at Sal. Oppenheim Jr. & Cie. in Frankfurt.

Solel develops and builds solar thermal power plants and makes solar receivers, a main component for the facilities that collect sunlight with mirrors to generate steam that powers turbines. Solel, which employs about 400 people, has solar fields in California and is supplying new plants in Spain.

Following a $150mm investment in 2008, Ecofin Ltd., a London-based investment company specialized in utilities and infrastructure, owns 63 percent of Solel’s issued share capital.

Solel reported sales of $37.7 million in 2008, on a net loss of $16.9 million, according to the Ecofin filing.

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