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Eni buys into US solar portfolio, forms JV to develop 1 GW of renewables

Italian oil major Eni SpA is buying a minority stake in a U.S. solar photovoltaics portfolio from developer Falck Renewables SpA, and the two companies are forming a joint venture to develop 1,000 MW of new renewables capacity in the country by 2023, they announced Dec. 20.

As part of the agreement, Eni subsidiary Eni New Energy US Inc. will acquire a 49% stake in a 112.5-MW portfolio of five solar photovoltaic plants operated by Falck Renewables North America Inc. in North Carolina and Massachusetts for about $70 million, including a solar panel stock valued at about $12.7 million, Eni said in a news release.

The joint venture will see the companies partner exclusively to develop, build and finance new solar photovoltaics, onshore wind and energy storage projects of over 5 MW. Both companies will have options to buy projects from the venture, either fully consolidated or, in the case of Falck, with a 49% stake for Eni. Funding for the joint development company and its profits will be split equally.

Falck's existing solar assets in the U.S., which the company will continue to operate, recorded revenues of $11.5 million and EBIT of $2.8 million in 2018, Eni said. The deal includes a call option in favor of Falck in the event of a deadlock and lock-up within five years of closing, which is expected during the first quarter of 2020.

Eni has increasingly branched out into renewables alongside other integrated European oil and gas companies. Luca Cosentino, Eni's executive vice president of energy solutions, said the agreement with Falck "opens up a new, low-risk and highly fluid market in which we are aiming to grow very quickly."