ACON leads investment for controlling stake in hydroelectric company in Panama

Source: ACON Investments

ACON Latin America Opportunities Fund (ALAOF), a private equity investment fund managed by an affiliate of ACON Investments LLC, (ACON), announced today that it has led a consortium of co-investors that includes the Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO) (Dutch development bank) and Societe de Promotion et de Participation pour la Cooperation Economique (PROPARCO) (French development bank) to invest in a controlling stake in Hidrotenencias, S.A. (Hidrotenencias or the Company). Asergen, S.C., the largest developer of mini-hydro projects in Mexico, will support the Company with technical and operational assistance. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Hidrotenencias currently owns three run-of-the-river hydroelectric projects located in the Chiriqui province, western Panama, with a total capacity of 30MW. Each of these power plants has an installed capacity of 10MW. Its first plant started operations and has been generating since 2008, while two new plants are expected to start operations by the end of this year. In addition to completing the current projects, the Company has an identified pipeline of renewable energy projects to further grow Hidrotenencias in Panama and other countries in Latin America. Banco General, S.A. and Banco Aliado, S.A. provided debt financing in connection with the development of the projects.

"Latin America is a region of the world with a very high potential for hydropower generation. Within Latin America, Panama is the fastest growing economy and one with limited access to fossil fuels," said Jorge Dickens, a Partner at ACON. "We are very enthusiastic about the possibilities of this investment and delighted to partner with FMO, PROPARCO, Asergen and the group of local investors and lenders to develop Hidrotenencias as a regional renewable energy platform."

"We are very pleased to join ACON and the Hidrotenencias' local investors to provide clean energy that meets the highest standards for efficiency and protection of the environment to support economic growth in Panama and the region. This partnership will enhance our commitment in the region to promote renewable energy and fight against climate change. The three existing hydro projects will help avoid 60,000 tCO2eq emissions per year," said Etienne Viard, Chief Executive Officer of PROPARCO. "We are excited to participate in the Hidrotenencias investment which contributes to the expansion of reliable and clean access to energy in Panama. We look forward to continue to support the company in its development into a broader platform for renewable energy generation in the region," said Jurgen Rigterink, Chief Investment Officer of FMO.

"This partnership with ACON opens an array of opportunities for Hidrotenencias by providing additional capital and experience to expand the portfolio of renewable energy assets throughout the region. We are currently evaluating additional opportunities to achieve this goal," said Alejandro Hanono, President of Hidrotenencias, who has led the development of the Company since it was founded 8 years ago. "As a committed long-term investor with 16 years of experience investing in Latin America, we believe ACON is an ideal partner as we continue in our path of profitable growth."

The Woodbridge Group LLC acted as financial advisor to Hidrotenencias on this transaction.

ACON was one of the earliest private equity firms to invest in Latin America and has invested successfully in both energy and energy services, which continue to be ACON's most significant target sectors both in Latin America and the US. In 2007, ACON invested in the largest manufacturer of electricity transmission towers in the western hemisphere, SAE Towers, which was sold to KEC International in September 2010. In addition, over the last decade, ACON has invested in a number of energy and energy services companies including, Mariner Energy, Signal International, Chroma Oil &Gas, Milagro Exploration, Northern Tier Energy and Saga Resources, among others.

Hidrotenencias is the fourth investment completed by ALAOF, which had a final close in February 2011. In July, ALAOF closed an investment in Grupo SALA one of the largest waste management companies in Colombia. In October 2010, ALAOF completed an investment in Invercap, a holding company that owns and operates one of the leading private pension fund managers in Mexico. Early in 2010, ALAOF made an investment in Credivalores, the largest non-bank consumer lender in Colombia. As part of its investment strategy, ALAOF is actively seeking to complete additional investments throughout Latin America.

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