initial public offerings (IPOs) trading on American exchanges

Friday, April 13, 2012

BrightSource shelves IPO, walks away from public markets

April 13--Solar thermal startup BrightSource Energy's abrupt decision Wednesday night to shelve its yearlong plans for an initial public stock offering came amid a challenging year for solar stocks and a turbulent year for clean energy technologies.

On the day it was expected to price its stock for a Thursday launch on Nasdaq, the Oakland-based company issued a press release shortly before 8 p.m. Pacific time saying it had decided not to pursue its IPO due to adverse market conditions. On Thursday, it withdrew its application on file with the Securities and Exchange Commission -- a firm sign that company has abandoned plans to raise money on the public markets.

While we received significant interest from potential investors, the continued market and economic volatility are not optimal conditions for an IPO, said CEO John Woolard in a statement. As a company, we've consistently made decisions in the best interest of our shareholders, employees and customers, and we will continue to do so. Fortunately, we're in a strong financial position and have the support of world-class investors and partners.

Rather than the photovoltaic solar panels visible on rooftops across California, BrightSource builds massive solar thermal power projects in desert locations. Along with competitors like Abengoa and SolarReserve, it is a leading player in what's known as Concentrating Solar Power or CSP. But CSP faces growing competition from photovoltaic solar

panels, which have drastically fallen in price, and CSP companies are racing to cut costs. The country is also awash in cheap natural gas, putting further pressure on renewable sources of energy.

Many analysts said Thursday that BrightSource now has two options: raise additional money from private investors or hope that they get acquired.

BrightSource was awarded a $1.6 billion loan guarantee from the Department of Energy, whose loan program came under fierce attack from House Republicans after Fremont-based Solyndra, which was awarded a $535 million loan guarantee, filed for bankruptcy last year.

The guarantee attracted private investors to BrightSource, including NRG Solar, which invested $300 million in the Ivanpah project. Google also invested $168 million in the project.

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