KKR rebrands Gestamp Solar in $500m overhaul

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KKR, a London-based investment firm that last year acquired an 80% stake in Spanish solar firm Gestamp Solar, has this week rebranded the company as X-Elio as part of a $500 million push to expand its reach within leading solar markets.

The rebranding exercise and cash injection is all part of a growing sense of confidence in the wider renewables sector, said the company in an interview with Bloomberg. KKR sees solar as a leading proponent in the transition away from fossil fuel use, and is ready to financially back growth in the sector.

"KKR has committed to grow this platform and today we have about half a billion dollars of equity committed to expand this business," said KKR global co-head of infrastructure Jesus Olmos. "We have our targets, but if we find more opportunities we will be able to inject the equity and the debt that is needed."

The recent impact of the COP21 Paris Agreement, the extension in the U.S. of the ITC and the continued suppression of oil prices served to convince KKR to back its solar horse following its Gestamp acquisition last year.

Olmos added that as recently as eight or nine years ago very few investors were willing to back solar PV or renewables in general. That attitude, he said, has changed significantly. "The world has decided to go for a different model where renewables are going to be important. According to our investment thesis, solar PV and onshore wind are going to be the two winning technologies."

The newly branded X-Elio has already been set an ambitious goal – to increase its solar PV portfolio from 300 MW currently to 2.5 GW as soon as possible. For the next two years at least, the company said, Japan is likely to prove fertile ground for solar expansion, while Mexico will also be on its radar, as well as the U.K. (the company has targeted the acquisition of 60 to 100 MW of solar portfolios in the U.K.) and Chile, South Africa and countries in Southeast Asia.