Italy’s Fimer enters string inverter business, plans stock exchange listing

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pv magazine: Fimer has reportedly been planning its listing on the Italian stock market, can you confirm it?

Carzaniga: We are working on it. The timing has not been decided yet, but we believe it may happen within the next 12 months.

What could delay this plan?

Well, despite 94% of our revenues coming from abroad, we are going to be listed in Italy where the stock market is surrounded by uncertainty. We want to first see how the market reacts to Italy’s upcoming Budget Law for 2018, which will have to be issued in September, and then we’ll decide the timing.

How do you believe the company will capitalize through the listing?

We plan to offer shares corresponding to between 20% to 30% of the company’s market value after IPO.

What is the estimated value?

We have our advisors working on this, and we will be able to soon provide this information.

Fimer is one of the world’s largest central inverter providers, but the company has always operated under the radar, relying on a sort of low profile strategy. With the listing, this no longer be possible.

We are aware of that, but the listing responds to our desire to move forward, especially in terms of technological improvement.

Managing director of Fimer, Filippo Carzaniga.

Image: Fimer

How will the company use the additional funds from the listing?

We will invest highly in R&D. In 2017, we invested around €2.2 million, equal to almost 3.6% of revenues and we want to continue to do this.

What kind of technological improvements are currently being implemented?

We launched our new production of string inverters for utility-scale solar plants only recently and we intend to further support this investment.

Are you not afraid that string inverters may cannibalize your central inverter business?

Not at all, we firmly believe that string inverters are perfect for large-scale solar plants not exceeding 30 MW in size, while for larger facilities, central inverters will still be necessary. After the 30 MW threshold, string inverters present several problems in terms of Capex.

What kind of string inverters is Fimer currently manufacturing?

Inverters ranging from 70 kV ampere to 120 kV ampere.

Is the company also planning to improve its central inverter technology?

Of course, we will do it, although I think our 1,500 V inverters are still well positioned in the market. We were the first in Europe to invest in the 1,500 V technology and to certify it.

What was your shipment volume for 2017, and what do you expect for this year?

Last year, we shipped 1.5 GW of central inverters, while for 2018 we expect shipments to grow by another 10% to between 1.6 GW to 1.7 GW according to our current backlog. But it will depend on if some projects planned for Q3 and Q4 will be not postponed.

Where are Fimer’s main markets?

Latin America is our largest market, but we recently expanded into Africa. In 2018, we are going to supply inverters for 200 MW in Egypt, at the Benban solar park, 34 MW in Zambia, and for smaller projects in Tunisia and Algeria.

Do the big Italian energy companies feature on your client list?

We are a qualified supplier for some of the most important key players in the market. Enel is currently our main customer, but we have been able to expand our customer base even abroad getting contracts, among others, from big players like Acciona Energia and Alfanar.

With the listing, Fimer is also planning to enter the emobility business? Solar is now your core business, is this going to change?

Our solar division currently represents over 85% of our turnover, the rest being represented by the welding business. We expect to grow further in solar in terms of turnover. In 2018, we entered the e-mobility business with the supply of EV recharging stations, so revenue from solar is expected to become between 60% and 65% of total turnover in the next years, with another 20% to 25% represented by our EV business.

It’s a promising market, just in 2018, we aim at installing at least 2,500 AC recharging stations and 100 DC stations in Italy. You have to consider that currently only 2,000 recharging stations are installed across the country, so we are going to be have a huge market share from the beginning.