PFR is pleased to announce the winners of its 16th Annual Deals and Firms of the Year Awards for the most impressive sponsors, lenders, advisers, investors and deals of 2018.

To download an eight-page PDF listing all of the award winners, click here.

The winners were determined in a poll of market participants which drew votes from dozens of power finance leaders including:

  • heads of project finance;
  • heads of power and utilities groups at investment banks;
  • senior in-house and private practice lawyers;
  • infrastructure, private equity and credit fund managers;
  • finance chiefs at project developers and sponsors of all kinds.

Organizations and individuals have been recognized in 19 categories, covering the best project sponsors, mandated lead arrangers, investment banks, law firms and institutional investors. In addition, individual deals are singled out for special recognition across six categories, covering project finance and mergers and acquisitions in North America and Latin America.

"I thank everyone who nominated deals and voted in our poll this year and congratulate the winners," said Richard Metcalf, editor of PFR.

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SPONSOR AWARDS
INVESTOR AWARDS
BANK AWARDS
LAW FIRM AWARDS
DEALS OF THE YEAR 

And the winners are:

PROJECT SPONSORS OF THE YEAR

Renewables Project Finance Borrower of the Year
Capital Dynamics

Conventional Power Project Finance Borrower of the Year
Competitive Power Ventures

Private Equity Sponsor of the Year
Capital Dynamics

Latin America Project Finance Borrower of the Year
Canadian Solar

Canada Project Finance Borrower of the Year
Capital Power

Project Sponsor Finance Official of the Year
Tim Short
Managing Director
Capital Dynamics


INSTITUTIONAL INVESTORS OF THE YEAR

Non-bank Lender of the Year
Allianz Global Investors

Institutional Equity Investor of the Year
BlackRock

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BANKS OF THE YEAR

Project Finance Lead Arranger of the Year
MUFG

Renewables Lead Arranger of the Year
MUFG

Conventional Power Lead Arranger of the Year
MUFG

Project Finance Banker of the Year
(Tie)

Louise Pesce
Managing Director
MUFG 
 Daniel Miller
Managing Director
CIT

Investment Bank of the Year
Goldman Sachs

M&A Adviser of the Year
Marathon Capital

Tax Equity Adviser of the Year
CCA Group

Investment Banker of the Year
Chris Pih
Managing Director
Bank of America Merril Lynch

Bank Sector Tax Equity Investor of the Year
Wells Fargo

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LAW FIRMS OF THE YEAR

U.S. Law Firm of the Year
Milbank

International Law Firm of the Year for Latin America
Clifford Chance

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DEALS OF THE YEAR

North America Renewables/Battery Project Finance Deal of the Year

8point3 Energy Partners Acquisition Financing

Sponsor

Capital Dynamics

Deal Value

$1.1 billion

Closing Date

June 21-22

Bookrunners

MUFG, Allianz Global Investors, KeyBankING Capital

Legal Advisers

Amis Patel & Brewer (Capital Dynamics)
Milbank (MUFG)
Mayer Brown (AllianzGI)

Other Involved Parties

Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Natixis, Sabadell, Santander, Rabobank, Nomura, Barings (provided commitments)

Notes:

When Capital Dynamics emerged as the winning bidder for First Solar and SunPower’s joint yield company, 8point3 Energy partners, the firm had already lined up some $1.1 billion in bridge financing from MUFG. At closing, the Japanese project finance behemoth and dependable institutional capital provider Allianz Global Investors  came through with two separate debt private placements to finance the utility-scale projects. Adding to the complexity of the highly public deal, the 945 MW operating solar portfolio had 12 separate utility and corporate offtakers. Meanwhile, residential solar finance front-runners KeyBank and ING Capital provided a seven-year loan to refinance the 38 MW residential solar portfolio, all apparently without missing a beat.


North America Renewables M&A Deal of the Year

8point3 Energy Partners

Buyer

Capital Dynamics Clean Energy Infrastructure V (APG, CalSTRS, ADIA)

Assets

8point3 Energy Partners

Seller(s)

First Solar, SunPower Corp.

Deal Value

$1.658 billion (enterprise value)

Closing Date

June 19

Financial Advisor(s)

Bank of America Merrill Lynch (First Solar), Goldman Sachs (SunPower)
Evercore (conflicts committee of the 8point3 Energy Partners G.P.)

Legal Advisers

Amis, Patel & Brewer, Stoel Rives (Capital Dynamics)
Baker Botts (SunPower), Skadden (First Solar)
Richards, Layton & Finger (conflicts committee of the 8point3 Energy Partners G.P).

Notes:

Joint-sponsored by developers First Solar and SunPower8point3 Energy Partners burst onto the scene in mid-2015, at the peak of the yield company craze, with Goldman Sachs and Citi guiding its $420 million initial public offering to market at the high end of the guidance price range. The exuberance did not last long, however, as investors soured on the yieldco business model of never-ending, voracious growth amid the spectacular collapse of SunEdison. Despite the slump in yieldco stocks, First Solar and SunPower managed to complete several drop-downs before first one sponsor, then the other, decided it was time to get out. They hired BAML and Goldman Sachs to explore a range of options for their respective stakes in 2017 before plumping for a sale, and the banks left no stone unturned. Between them, they contacted more than 130 potential buyers, 30 of whom signed non-disclosure agreements. The transaction that emerged, with Capital Dynamics as the winning bidder, differed from other yieldco transfers that have taken place (involving the two TerraForm companies and the yieldcos formerly known as Abengoa Yield and NRG Yield) in that it was a full take-private and delisting.


North America Conventional Power Project Finance Deal of the Year

Woodbridge Energy Center (CPV Shore)

Sponsor(s)

Competitive Power VenturesToyota Tsusho Corp., Osaka Gas USA Corp., John Hancock Life Insurance Co.

Assets

A 725 MW CCGT located in Woodbridge, N.J.

Deal Type

Term loan B, revolving credit facility

Deal Value

$545 million

Closing Date

Dec. 27

Bookrunners

Morgan Stanley (left), Credit Agricole, MUFG

Legal Advisers

Latham & Watkins (borrower)
White & Case (lenders)

Other Involved Parties

Leidos (market consultant and independent engineer)

Notes:

CPV navigated a tough term loan B market at the end of the year to secure a good print for its Woodbridge project, which has been operating since January 2016. At a time when other term loan B refinancings had been shelved, the sponsors were able to cut pricing on the existing debt by 50 basis points to close at 375 bp over Libor and used the proceeds of the term loan B to pay themselves a $100 million dividend. The packaged comprised a $425 million seven-year term loan and a $120 million five-year revolver, issued at a 99% discount. CPV Shore has a five-year heat rate call option as well as PJM Interconnection capacity contracts through 2022. The notes are rated Ba2 and BB by Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings respectively.

North America Conventional Power M&A Deal of the Year

Canal units 1, 2 and 3

Buyer(s)

Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners

Assets

Two dual-fuel peaking units totaling 1,112 MW and a 333 MW construction-stage simple-cycle peaker in Massachusetts.

Seller(s)

GenOn Energy

Deal Value

$325 million (Canal 1 and 2) and $167 million (Canal 3)

Closing Date

June 29

Financial Adviser(s)

Credit Suisse (seller)

Legal Adviser(s)

Kirkland & Ellis (seller)
Sidley Austin (buyer)

Notes:

One of the most anticipated power sector restructurings of recent years, that of GenOn Energy, was always likely to bring with it a flurry of opportunities for acquisitive companies both strategic and financial. For Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners, it didn’t disappoint. The fund manager swooped, via portfolio companies dubbed Kestrel, on Canal units 1, 2 and 3. Interestingly, only units 1 and 2 were already owned by GenOn. The NRG Energy subsidiary had pre-paid for an option to acquire unit 3 from another company in the same group, but had not yet gone through with the acquisition. Given the very different nature of the vintage units and the unbuilt one, the acquisitions were carried out through separate special purpose vehicles and with different financing arrangements. MUFG and Investec arranged the $285 million seven-year loan for the older units 1 and 2, while Natixis led on the $200 million mini-perm for unit 3, which closed while the project was still owned by NRG. The asset sales helped GenOn emerge from bankruptcy before the end of 2018.


Latin America Project Finance Deal of the Year

Cafayate Solar

Sponsor

Canadian Solar

Assets

An 80 MW solar project in Cafayate, Salta Province, Argentina.

Deal Type

Construction-to-term loan

Deal Value

$50 million, split into $30 million, $15 million and $5 million tranches.

Closing Date

Nov. 20

Bookrunners

Corporación Andina de Fomento (lender and mandated lead arranger)
Banco de Inversión y Comercio ExteriorBanco de la Ciudad (lenders)

Legal Advisers

Akin Gump (borrower, U.S.)
Beccar Varela (borrower, local)
Clifford Chance (lenders, U.S.)
Martinez de Hoz & Rueda (lenders, local)

Other Involved Parties

Power China (EPC contractor)

Notes:

In a year of what President Mauricio Macri described as “endless storms” for the Argentine economy, Canadian Solar landed a deal to finance the 80 MW Cafayate solar project in Salta Provice in November, eight months after poaching it out of the bankruptcy of Isolux Ingeniería. Based on a $56.28/MWh power purchase agreement awarded in round 1.5 of the Renovar program in 2016, the deal comprises 15-year loans from CAF and BICE and a 10-year loan from Banco de la Ciudad. Construction financing is being provided by EPC contractor Power China, neutralizing construction risk for the lenders. Nevertheless, the deal “will likely be deemed the most difficult transaction in the country during the past year,” according to a person who worked on it. Canadian Solar is looking for a further $25 million debt commitment to round out the project’s capital structure this year.

Latin America M&A Deal of the Year

Enel Green Power's Mexico renewables portfolio

Buyers

Caisse de depot et placement du Québec, CKD Infraestructura México

Assets

An 80% stake in a 1.8 GW renewables portfolio in Mexico

Seller

Enel Mexico

Deal Value

$1.4 billion, implying an enterprise value of $2.6 billion

Closing Date

Sept. 28

Financial Advisers

Goldman SachsBBVA (seller)

Legal Advisers

Norton Rose (seller)

Notes:

Enel Green Power sold 80% of eight special purpose vehicles to Canadian institutional investor CDPQ and Mexican consortium CKD Infraestructura México while raising around $605 million of project debt. The deal involved the sale of operational assets and under-construction projects that were being project-financed at the same time. Goldman Sachs and BBVA initially ran the auction for the portfolio in 2017 as part of Enel’s shift to a build-sell-operate business model. The identities of the ultimate owners of the projects, CDPQ and CKD Infraestructura México, were an important factor in structuring the projects’ debt, so the financing was put on the back burner during the auction process. In an interesting twist, CKD would hold its stake through a so-called Fibra-e listed vehicle, qualifying for beneficial tax treatment.

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