Chinese bank lending to solar firms dwarfs sector funding in 2010, says Mercom Capital

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Investment into the PV industry was dominated by Chinese banks in 2010, according to a new detailed report from Mercom Capital Group. Venture capital reached US$1.67 billion from 65 transactions – an 18% increase on the 2009 figure – but this was dwarfed by the contribution Chinese banks made to the debt and other funding sector of the industry.

Mercom noted that US$34 billion was provided by Chinese Government Banks to Chinese solar companies last year. Key beneficiaries were LDK Solar, Yingli Green, JA Solar, Suntech and Trina Solar.
 
The largest single transaction was the US$8.9 billion credit facility to LDK Solar by China Development Bank. The largest credit transactions from outside China was the US$350 million credit facility for Suntech, followed by a US$300 million credit facility for First Solar.
 
Chinese PV manufacturers have invested much of this money in capacity expansions, a trend which is set to continue in 2011.
 
However, Mercom also noted the merger and acquisition (M&A) trends in the sector; highlighting that a total of US$2 billion was spent, primarily in attempts by firms to vertically integrate and move downstream. A lot of project developers, including Recurrent Energy, NextLight and Sunray were acquired to enable access to the project development sector, which has continued in 2011 with the recent news that polysilicon producer OCI has acquired CornerStone Power Development. 
 
Solar project M&A is said to have started to pickup in the second half of 2010, with a total of US$450 million spent. Significant transactions that were recently announced include K Road Sun's purchase of the Tessera Solar Calico Project and NRG Energy's acquisition of First Solar’s 290MW Aqua Caliente Solar Project.

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