Leading Italian wind developer Fri-el pulls plug on public offering

Italian wind developer Fri-el Green Power pulled the plug on its planned November initial public offering (IPO), citing turmoil on national and international financial markets. In particular, the company said the accentuation of the liquidity crisis in the United States had led institutional investors there to take up less of the offer than initially expected. While Fri-el had hoped to raise as much as EUR 461 million for its development pipeline through the offering, the company says it still has sufficient financial resources to fund its investment plan for all of 2008. Once the situation on the financial markets improves, Fri-el says it could push ahead with listing plans, while the sale of a minority stake to a private equity investor is also a possibility. Fri-el is not the only Italian company that has postponed listing plans as it awaits calmer markets and the pace of IPOs has also slowed in the US and elsewhere. Its decision to scrap the IPO came in the wake of the stock market debut of Greek wind developer Terna Energy, which saw its share price drop in the first week. "The particularly strong price of oil makes wind relatively more competitive and this had an impact on stock valuations," says one London-based utilities analyst, but oil prices "came off a bit" as the wind companies came to market. Amid stock market volatility, he notes that companies like Fri-el with activities concentrated in a single market have significantly higher regulatory risk than those with business spread across different markets and different regulatory systems. "Italy's regulatory system is not always very consistent or logical," he notes.

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