Opera Investments, a public company traded on the London Stock Exchange, "formed for the purpose of acquiring a company, business, project or asset in the natural resources sector," has found its dream company.
Opera provides a wish list for its target:
- Management with a strong track record of generating growth for shareholders and a proven experienced business record and/or solid commercial prospects
- A pre-existing resource base or a prospective resource which offers the potential for near-term cash flow and development success
- Can be funded adequately to be able to deliver a realistic plan of achieving credible milestones and significant growth opportunities for shareholders
But instead, Opera has selected SoloPower, the idled CIGS thin-film, roll-to-roll solar panel manufacturer, as the target of its reverse takeover.
SoloPower raised more than $200 million from Hudson Clean Energy Partners, Crosslink Capital, Convexa, and Firsthand Capital since its 2005 founding. Judging by the board makeup, Hudson now owns the company.
According to a statement, Opera "has entered into non-binding heads of terms with Hudson for the acquisition of SoloPower for a consideration of $220 million." Also in the statement: "It is envisaged that, in conjunction with completion of the acquisition, there will be an equity financing raising net proceeds of not less than $40 million to fund certain future investment and working capital requirements of SoloPower."
Trading in Opera's shares has been suspended until the transaction is finalized which is expected later this quarter.
A statement from Opera reads as follows : "We are delighted to have found such an attractive acquisition target so soon after Opera’s formation and listing in April 2015. We believe this acquisition delivers on our investment objectives and offers significant value for our shareholders. The proposed transaction will give a strong platform from which to grow SoloPower as a pioneer in flexible and lightweight high-performance solar materials and to realise value for its current and future stakeholders. We look forward to continuing to work with Hudson and SoloPower to deliver the transaction."
A spokesperson from Opera noted, "I would just like to clarify that Opera has at this stage only agreed to a heads of terms with SoloPower, and there are a number of conditions precedent to completion of any deal."
SoloPower could not comment.
Back in 2013, SoloPower, shuttered its Oregon factory, laid off most of its workforce and auctioned off some of its equipment. There was some chatter about a South Korean buyer at the time. General Wesley K. Clark (U.S., retired) was on SoloPower's board for a brief period of time.
Despite the promise of thin-film solar's light weight, low materials usage, and low cost, the CIGS manufacturing scene is a bloodied hellscape of bankrupt companies, spectacular losses, or, in the best circumstance, a financial rescue at pennies on the dollar.
Solyndra is the most prominent failure, but other CIGS companies such as HelioVolt, Nanosolar, and AQT have faltered as well. MiaSolé was sold to Hanergy and is trying to enter the market with flexible CIGS.
A few other companies soldier on and might figure out the recipe for low-cost and high-performance CIGS, including leader Solar Frontier, or startups such as Siva, Stion or Hulket. The only credible volume player today is Solar Frontier, which has shipped over 3 gigawatts of its CIS modules to date.
The value proposition for flexible modules is that there is less hardware required to install the modules and the installation is easier and less expensive. However, this thesis has yet to be proven with reliability in volume and at scale. The other alleged advantage of flexible solar panels is that their lightweight nature opens up "value-engineered" rooftops that could not support the weight of conventional crystalline solar panels. This thesis also remains to be proven.