Thin-film startup Nanosolar on Wednesday announced it has raised a long-rumored $300 million equity round.

According to a blog post by CEO Martin Roscheisen, AES Corp, the Carlyle Group, EDF and Energy Capital Partners invested in Nanosolar through Riverstone Holdings and EDF Renewables. Other investors included Lone Pine Capital, the Skoll Foundation and the Omidyar Network, as well as returning investors such as GLG Partners, Beck Energy and Grazia Equity.

In an email, Roscheisen told Greentech Media that, unlike many other firms' rounds, no bankers were used as part of this transaction.

"Bankers charge 5 percent or so," he said. "For our round, it was just me putting in 40,000 miles in January through March - all in economy class!"

The round, which Roscheisen said was oversubscribed and closed in March, is the company's fourth. Nanosolar in 2006 announced a $75 million Series C round, which it claimed amounted to $100 million when combined with government subsidies.

In his blog post Wednesday, CEO Martin Roscheisen said the cash brings the company's total funding to "just below" $500 million. 

The San Jose, Calif.-based company will use the money to accelerate its production expansion for the 430-megawatt factory it is building in its hometown, and the 620-megawatt factory slated for Berlin, he wrote, adding that Nanosolar already has secured a subsidy for 50 percent of the capital expenses of building the German facility.

The company in December confirmed it had begun preparatory work for the German factory at Luckenwalde, a town south of Berlin, and also announced it had begun production at its San Jose facility. Nanosolar hasn't discussed its actual production numbers since then.

In his blog post, Roscheisen described the financing as "strategic," saying the company's backers are ideally suited to advancing the business strategy through production supply agreements, strategic collaboration and, of course, equity investments.

"Starting in late 2007, our strategic partners spent many months examining virtually every solar company in the industry and conducting one of the most thorough due diligence efforts imaginable on our manufacturing operation and scale-up capabilities," he wrote. "We are honored to have been selected as the company of choice to partner with by such a sophisticated group."

In an email, Aloe Driscoll, an executive assistant at Nanosolar, said the round is the first to include utilities as investors, and is also "the largest private funding round of any solar company ever."

(Fotowatio in July raised $350 million from GE Energy Financial Services and Grupo Corporativo Landon, but that round included both equity and convertible debt.)

The funding is the latest in a series of large thin-film solar deals.

 

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