Mainstream Renewable Energy Company Hires Rothschild to Find Investors

Mainstream Renewable Power has hired Rothschild & Co. to find an investor for its South African renewable energy projects, people familiar with the matter said.

The Japanese group backed by Mitsui & Co., with about 12 gigawatts of solar and wind projects under development in the continent’s most industrialized nation, is seeking a joint venture partner for its South African business, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is still private. The size of the stake has not yet been determined, one of the people said.

Photovoltaic panels in Frankfort, South Africa. Photographer: Michele Spatari/Bloomberg

“Mainstream does not comment on market speculation,” a company spokesman said. “However, it is standard practice for global renewable developers to continually seek investment, sales and partnership opportunities.”

Rothschild declined to comment.

In 2021, Aker Horizons acquired a majority stake in Mainstream, with Mitsui joining as an investor in 2022. The current agreement is for the investor for the South African assets.

There has been increased activity in renewable energy deals in South Africa and elsewhere on the continent.

Old Mutual-owned African Infrastructure Investment Managers Ltd. is in talks with companies including BlackRock Inc. to sell stakes, people familiar with the matter said last month. Another South African firm, Red Rocket, has hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to consider strategic options for its assets, Bloomberg reported earlier.

Mainstream is currently implementing a 97-megawatt solar farm project, which reached financial close in November 2023, and the company expects to reach financial close on another project under an electricity purchase agreement with a private investor, the company said.

South Africa’s government auction system, which allows clean energy to be purchased from independent producers, was once the fastest-growing programme in the world before it was stalled by political interference, a shortage of grid connections and lawsuits.

That situation could change as Energy and Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa promised earlier this month that he would be “very aggressive” about acquiring more generating capacity.

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