Institutional investors back novel Italian solar financing

Italy’s first project bond gets seal of approval from institutional capital.

French fund manager Antin Infrastructure Partners has closed a novel €165 million refinancing, issuing Italy’s first project bond with backing from international institutional investors. The financing package, comprised of bond and loan financing, brings seven separately-financed solar plants under one umbrella debt structure, as reported by PDI’s sister title Low Carbon Energy Investor

In a Natixis-led deal, Italian platform Antin Solar Investments secured domestic and international institutional investor buy-in for its dual-tranche €85 million project bond. Three investors within Aviva Group, two of them Italian, and SCOR Global Investments bought into €65 million of floating rate notes paying six-month EURIBOR plus 335 basis points and €20 million of fixed rate notes paying 3.552 percent. Both tranches mature in 14 years.

Antin said it leveraged new Italian regulations covering project bonds that offer tax benefits and extra security for investors. The rest of the debt package comes in the form of an €80 million bank loan from Natixis and UBI, including liquidity and VAT facilities.

“This innovative financial structure could structurally change infrastructure financing in Italy. In a market so far driven by banks, it opens the doors to international institutional investors. In addition, this structure could be easily replicated in all infrastructure sectors,” commented Natixis regional head of global infrastructure, Alberto Cei.
The deal took 15 months to put together.

Antin Solar Investments owns a fully operational portfolio of nine solar plants in the Lazio, Apulia and Sicily regions, capable of generating some 77 megawatts.