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ACWA considers supporting solar panel manufacturing in Saudi



FILE PHOTO: Saudi man looks at the solar plant in Uyayna, north of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia April 10, 2018. Picture taken April 10, 2018. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser/File Photo

ABU DHABI (Reuters) – ACWA Power is considering supporting the manufacturing of solar panels in Saudi Arabia, its chief executive said, as the power and water plants developer seeks to facilitate Saudi Arabia’s plans to develop its renewable power industry.

Riyadh-based ACWA Power, partly owned by Saudi’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), does not plan to become a manufacturer of solar panels, but is “open to the idea of supporting and enabling the right environment in the Kingdom to welcome in manufacturers,” a spokesman told Reuters.

SoftBank Chief Executive Masayoshi Son announced in March last year a plan to invest in creating the world’s biggest solar power project in Saudi Arabia, a project expected to have the capacity to produce up to 200 gigawatts (GW) by 2030.

The project is set to create thousands of jobs and develop a manufacturing industry in line with Saudi Arabia’s economic diversification plans laid out in its Vision 2030.

ACWA Power plans to double its power production capacity by 2025 and to expand its operations to 25 markets from the current 12. “We expect renewables to be a significant part of that growth,” ACWA’s CEO, Paddy Padmanathan said.

ACWA mandated banks last year to sell a 30 percent stake through an initial public offering (IPO). Sources told Reuters at the time that JPMorgan, Citigroup, Natixis and Riyad Capital had been appointed to advise on that process.

Padmanathan said on Monday that the IPO was postponed as the company had a lot of preparatory work to do and its balance sheet had to be “positioned in the right way,” but added that the company is still committed to a listing, and the banks that were mandated have retained their role.

(This story has been corrected to remove incorrect quote, change headline and body to reflect ACWA is considering supporting manufacturing, but does not plan to manufacture itself)

Writing by Davide Barbuscia, editing by Louise Heavens