There’s a storm brewing in India’s renewable energy ecosystem. Solar has lost its shine. There’s a twist in the wind. And in all of this, India’s largest green energy company, ReNew, is lost at sea.
ReNew Power Ltd filed for an initial public offering in May and got the green light from the market regulator last month. The only thing is, equities investors don’t seem to be interested in paying the steep price that the company is asking for, pushing the firm to defer the IPO, according to two investment bankers involved in the discussions.
“They did a series of roadshows where the bankers realised that public equities investors are not as kicked as the private market ones. They do not see the same value as the existing investors do,” said one of the two bankers, both of whom requested not to be named as they are not authorised to speak to the media.
ReNew—which counts the likes of Goldman Sachs, the Global Environment Fund, the Asian Development Bank, JERA Power and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) as investors—is looking to raise Rs 2,600 crore ($371 million) in its initial share sale, apart from providing a partial exit for existing investors.
“They were seeking a valuation of nearly $4 billion, which is double of what they got in the previous round in March. One has to understand that those days are gone when people would pay a premium for power assets,” said an investment banker with a foreign bank, who also requested anonymity, adding that this is harder in solar. Solar projects’ internal rate of returns (IRRs) stand at 14-16% and debt costs are about 12% or more, and “return on equity is just negligible for most companies,” he adds.
During the last round of funding in March 2018, CPPIB had valued ReNew Power at nearly Rs 15,700 crore ($2.3 billion).
And this comes at a time of rising concerns about the green energy sector as a whole. Renewables firms, a favourite among infrastructure investors until not very long ago, have been facing headwinds amid cutthroat competition, cancellation of orders after bids have been completed and a host of other issues.
Investors, naturally, are wary.
ReNew has been working towards a listing for the last two years. It acquired KCT Renewable Energy from the KCT Group for nearly Rs 1,000 crore (~$142 million) in November 2017, and followed it up with India’s biggest renewables deal ever, buying Ostro Energy from buyout firm Actis Capital in March for an enterprise value of nearly Rs 10,000 crore (~$1.4 billion).
The added assets cemented ReNew’s position as the country’s top clean energy producer, setting the stage for a grand listing. An IPO would also give Goldman Sachs, which first invested in ReNew Power in 2011 and holds a stake of over 48% through its subsidiary GS Wyvern Holdings Ltd (GSW), a chance to cash in part of its investment in the firm.