Petronas in talks to enter India’s solar energy firm, says report

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KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 16):Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) is seeking to buy into one of India’s largest rooftop solar power producers, Indian business newspaper Mint reported.

Quoting sources, the report said Petronas is currently in talks with private equity firm I Squared Capital to buy into Amplus Energy Solutions Pvt Ltd in a deal that could be worth 2,700 crore rupees (RM1.56 billion). 

Amplus, which was founded in 2010, has already set up solar power generation capacity of 350 megawatt (MW) across India, the report said. In 2015, I Squared Capital invested US$150 million (RM616.35 million) in the solar energy firm.

“The talks are on for Petronas to acquire a majority stake in Amplus,” Mint quoted one source as saying. Another source, who also did not want to be named, confirmed the development.

Petronas has not responded to questions by theedgemarkets.com on the matter.

Mint said queries emailed to Gautam Bhandari, founder of I Squared Capital, managing director Andreas Moon and India head Harsh Agrawal on Jan 11, were also unanswered.

Apart from Petronas, Amplus has also garnered the attention of other oil majors, including Norway’s Statoil ASA, France’s Total SA and Royal Dutch Shell Plc, according to the report. 

Globally, oil majors have begun venturing into renewable energy amid the volatile oil market, as well as increasing demand towards cleaner energy sources.

Back home, Petronas already has some small solar power assets such as its plant in Gebeng, Pahang, and has conducted research on solar panels on the rooftop of the Suria KLCC Mall.  

Last November, Reuters reported Petronas has set up a new business within the group, especially to look into the renewable energy sector. 
 
The renewable energy push is one of Petronas’ three-pronged growth strategy, aside from extension of value chain and maximising cash generation, president and group chief executive officer Tan Sri Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin said in an interview in December. 

Malaysia, where Petronas is based, is undertaking a third round of large scale solar (LSS) project tender worth an estimated RM2 billion, with 500MW generation capacity.  

Under the LSS programme, the government has targeted to add 2.2GW of solar generation capacity between 2017 and 2020. This pales in comparison with India’s 2022 target of 40GW from rooftop solar projects alone.