SunPower/First Solar yieldco IPO looks to raise $430m

SunPower and First Solar are looking to raise up to $431m in the IPO of their soon-to-launch yieldco, 8point3 Energy Partners, selling shares for $19-$21 each.

Twenty million shares of 8point3 will be sold to the public, and the underwriters will have the option to buy another 3 million.

All told, the IPO is expected to raise between $375m and $431.3m, once fees and the underwriting discount are accounted for, and depending on the final price put on the shares.

The yieldco will trade on the NASDAQ Global Market under the ticker symbol CAFD – a reference to Cash Available for Distribution, a key metric for yieldcos.

8point3 will be seeded with an initial 432MW of capacity, of which 87% will be at utility-scale projects – including SunPower’s soon-to-finish 108MW Quinto – and the rest in residential and C&I systems.

The yieldco will also have right of first offer (ROFO) on another 1.1GW of capacity, including First Solar’s 250MW Moapa project, due on-line in December.

8point3 is among the most hotly anticipated yieldco – and, indeed, clean energy – IPOs of 2015.

Most publicly listed yieldcos are tied to just one parent company. By contrast, First Solar and SunPower are long-time rivals. They are the two largest US-based PV manufacturers, in addition to their significant development activities.

Between 2005 and 2014, First Solar and SunPower collectively built 39% of the new solar capacity that went up in the US, and 11% of the capacity that went up across all countries in the Organization for Economic Development and Co-operation (OECD).

8point3 will accumulate PV assets of all shapes and sizes, with a primary focus on developed countries, and pay a generous dividend to shareholders.

The yieldco is effectively backed by French oil giant Total, which is SunPower's largest shareholder, and the fifth largest publicly traded energy company in the world by market value.