Some success for French share issue

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Aerowatt, a French independent renewable energy developer, operator and owner, has raised EUR 7.5 million for further project development through a share issue. While far less than the EUR 45-50 million Aerowatt had once hoped for, given the difficult market conditions "it is still something, and allows us to build what we planned in 2009," says the firm's Jérôme Billerey.

As well as raising cash, part of the exercise was to transfer Aerowatt shares from Euronext Paris' non-regulated Marché Libre to the more visible -- and rigorous -- Alternext market for small and medium size companies. The firm also wanted to give its workforce a chance to participate. Nearly 86% of Aerowatt's employees subscribed to the special offer reserved for them.

The capital-raising exercise is the third for Aerowatt. In 2006, it netted EUR 17 million in a private placement on the Marché Libre, followed in September 2008 by EUR 4.3 million. The transfer to Alternext gives Aerowatt access to new financial resources, says Billerey. Meantime, the new funds will help Aerowatt achieve its target of 400 MW of operating renewables generation on its books by 2014, of which 350 MW will be wind and the rest solar, in France and overseas. So far it operates 55 MW of wind and 0.5 MW of solar. Required investment over the next five years will be around EUR 700 million, says Billerey, with first plant coming on line this year out of a 1240 MW wind project portfolio.

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