Friday, October 29, 2010

First Wind Shelves Plans For IPO

Wind farm developer First Wind Holdings has put its IPO on hold after cutting it’s price range by 24%, Reuters reported. Boston-based First Wind, which is funded by private equity firm Madison Dearborn and hedge fund operator D.E. Shaw, originally aimed to raise $300 million from the offering. The company faced skepticism from investors due to a heavy debt load, Reuters reported.

(Reuters) - Wind farm owner and operator First Wind Holdings Inc canceled its IPO after cutting its expected price range by 24 percent and facing investor skepticism about its balance sheet and wind industry financing.

The company’s struggle to come public is likely a sign of its own particular problems rather than an indication that the U.S. market for new issues has completely fallen off. Two other IPOs moved higher on their first day of dealings.

Shares of medical services provider ExamWorks Group Inc were trading up over 6 percent in their debut on the New York Stock Exchange. Shares of SeaCube Container Leasing Ltd, which leases and sells refrigerated and dry containers and generator sets, are trading up 9 percent, also on the New York Stock Exchange.

“This is a company (First Wind) that certainly has real assets and certainly has been doing some big projects, but is challenged on the debt side,” said Greg Neichin, vice president of San Francisco-based research and advisory firm Cleantech Group LLC.

“If anything, it’s a sign that you should be really thoughtful about project finance and debt loads and trying to maintain a cleaner balance sheet,” Neichin said.

First Wind finances, develops and operates utility-scale wind energy projects in the Northeastern and Western United States and Hawaii. It is the first U.S. wind energy company to attempt an IPO, according to Thomson Reuters data.

The company, which had planned to raise $300 million in its IPO but cut that figure back to $228 million on Wednesday, has been posting losses and had outstanding debt of more than half a billion dollars as of Sept 30. It had hoped to list on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “WIND”.

Some U.S. government financing — of which First Wind has received hundreds of millions of dollars — could be suspended at the end of the year. Analysts have also warned that weak electricity prices could be too low to secure private financing.

New U.S. wind power installations were down 71 percent through the first six months of 2010, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

First Wind Chief Executive Officer Paul Gaynor said in a statement that the terms the company was able to get for the IPO were “not attractive” and the company was canceling its IPO.

Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank were lead underwriters on the First Wind IPO.

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