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SPNEC prices IPO at P1 each

By Keren Concepcion G. Valmonte, Reporter

SOLAR Philippines Nueva Ecija Corp. (SPNEC) has set the final offer price of its initial public offering (IPO) to one peso per share, which means the company can raise up to P2.7 billion to fund the first part of its 500-megawatt (MW) solar plant.

SPNEC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Leviste-led Solar Philippines Power Project Holdings, Inc. (SPPHI), will be offering to the public 2.7 billion common shares.

“The IPO price has been finalized at P1.00, which was also the initial maximum offer price guidance announced in the preliminary terms of the offer,” Timson Securities, Inc. Trader Darren Blaine T. Pangan said in a Viber message.

“One thing that may have been considered was the improving market conditions in the country, as the index has lingered mostly above the 7,200 area during the past few weeks — brought about by the improving COVID-19 (cooronavirus disease 2019) situation in the country,” he added.

The bellwether Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) rose 17.94 points or 0.24% on Wednesday, closing at 7,419.10.

Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) Chief Economist Michael L. Ricafort said the pricing “could signal improved market sentiment recently as the economy further reopens with granular lockdowns or alert level system already adopted nationwide.”

“Renewable energy has also become more attractive for investors worldwide amid the need to comply with ESG (environmental, social, and governance) standards as already required by some regulators globally in recent years,” Mr. Ricafort said in a separate Viber message.

The company may net up to P2.59 billion from its IPO, which will be used to fund the first 50-megawatt-direct current (MWdc) for “Phase 1A” of its solar project.

Diversified Securities, Inc. Equity Trader Aniceto K. Pangan said solar power is currently in high demand “due to the harmful effects of climate change which is attributed to carbon-related or fossil fuels.”

“At [its IPO price], valuation is high considering [it] only [has] a par value of 10 centavos per common share without commercial operations and incurring losses. But if it could achieve its Phase 1A goal of commissioning 225 MW for commercial operations by next year then price is justifiable,” Mr. Pangan said in a text message.

SPNEC is the first company to receive approval to list under the Philippine Stock Exchange’s (PSE) Supplemental Listing and Disclosure Requirements for Renewable Energy (RE) Companies approved in 2011, which allows devel-opment-stage project companies to list, subject to certain requirements.

The company previously said the IPO proceeds would be enough to kickstart its 500-MW project as it would secure debt to complete it.

According to its preliminary prospectus dated Nov. 12, the company plans to allocate P1.003 billion of its net proceeds to fund the development of Phase 1A and P200 million will be allotted for the construction of the transmis-sion line of the project.

Meanwhile, P23 million will be for lease expenses over project lands and for the right of way leases and P33 million will be spent for general corporate purposes. SPNEC said “any amount in excess of P1.332 billion will be used for land acquisition for its future expansion.”

“If we do raise the amount of over P1.3 [billion], then we will be able to use those proceeds so accretive in our view that the value of the shareholders’ investment will actually increase more… because we’ll have more to invest for the expansion,” Solar Philippines Founder Leandro L. Leviste told BusinessWorld in a virtual call last week.

The company looks to hold the offer period from Dec. 1 to 7, while its tentative listing date on the main board of the PSE is on Dec. 17 under stock symbol “SPNEC.”

The Nueva Ecija project is said to be the largest among the first 1-gigawatt (GW) projects of Solar Philippines, which is targeted to be operating by 2022.

“We can always go back to the market if we only raise less than the max amount after we construct the first phase of the plant to expand it beyond the initial capacity,” Mr. Leviste said.

“Because this is the company’s first time to tap the capital markets, we really want to show that we can do a lot of good with the proceeds that we raised,” he added.

Solar Philippines’ other projects include an operational 63-MW plant in Batangas in partnership with Korea Electric Power Corp., one in Tarlac with Razon-led Prime Infrastructure Holdings Corp. that is being expanded up to 200 MW, and two more in Batangas and Cavite with a combined capacity of 140 MW expected to be fully operational by 2022.

SPNEC tapped Abacus Capital and Investment Corp. as the issue manager and lead underwriter for the offer, while Investment Capital Corp. of the Philippines is a participating underwriter.

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