United States

United States

Investment firm takes on developer

Central Vermont Public Service (CVPS), the largest electric utility in the US state of Vermont, is selling a controlling interest in its wind energy business, Catamount Energy Corporation, to a New York-based private equity firm. Diamond Castle Holdings LLC will invest $62.5 million in Catamount in exchange for a 51% interest in the CVPS wind energy subsidiary. The agreement also contains an option for the investment firm to acquire the whole of Catamount.

Diamond Castle's investment will occur in phases over three years, providing equity as needed by Catamount to continue its wind energy development activities in the United States and the United Kingdom. The initial investment of $15 million was expected to be completed on October 31.

The transaction will effectively double the size of Catamount, says CVPS president Bob Young. "Through a lot of hard work, we have developed Catamount into a premier wind developer and operator," Young says. "Catamount needed a new partner with the financial resources of Diamond Castle to enable it to continue to grow its business."

CVPS said last June it was suspending investments in its wind power subsidiary after Standard & Poor's Ratings Services downgraded CVPS's corporate credit rating to BB+, which is below investment grade.

Mike Ranger of Diamond Castle, says Catamount is "well positioned to take advantage of the numerous growth opportunities in the rapidly expanding wind power industry." Diamond Castle, founded in September 2004 by a group of former Credit Suisse First Boston executives, focuses on investments in the power, financial services, media and telecom, and healthcare sectors.

Catamount, formed in 1986, has focused exclusively on wind development since 2001. It has six operating projects in the United States and Europe, and eight projects under development in Wales, Scotland, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Vermont.

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