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FMO to invest more in Shell-backed solar power firm Orb Energy
Photo Credit: VCCircle

Dutch development bank FMO has proposed an additional equity investment of €1 million ($1.11 million or Rs 7.91 crore) in Orb Energy Pte. Ltd, a solar photovoltaic and solar thermal solutions provider.

FMO said in a disclosure it intends to purchase the equity stake from an early-stage impact investor in Orb. This will give FMO a “greater opportunity” to influence Orb’s development, especially with regards to corporate governance practices, the Dutch investor said. It didn’t name the early-stage investor.

According to VCCEdge, the data research arm of Mosaic Digital, some other investors in Orb Energy include impact investor Acumen Fund, German development finance institution Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft (DEG), Zouk Capital, Renewable Capital, Bamboo Capital Partners and global energy giant Royal Dutch Shell Plc.

In October, Shell acquired a stake of almost 20% in Bengaluru-based Orb Energy. At the time, Orb said the investment from Shell’s New Energies business would help it provide lower-cost solar power to more Indian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

In its disclosure, FMO said Orb had positioned itself with a unique combination of manufacturing capabilities, engineering, procurement and construction services, strong distribution networks and in-house financing services for solar thermal and photovoltaic systems.

“This extensive expertise Orb has built over the years serving SME customers will assist the company’s strategy to increase its presence in the economically viable and attractive commercial rooftop solar market across India,” FMO said.

Orb was co-founded in 2006 by Damian Miller and NP Ramesh, who function as the company’s chief executive officer and chief operating officer, respectively. It claims that it has sold 160,000 rooftop solar systems in India with cumulative capacity of about 75 MW since inception.

In January last year, Orb had raised $15 million from FMO and US government agency Overseas Private Investment Corporation through a combination of equity and debt to bolster its flagship finance platform. Prior to that, FMO had invested $2 million in Orb in 2015.

In June 2011, Orb had raised $1.1 million in equity funding from non-profit venture firm Acumen Fund. The company had said that it would use the funding to extend its household lighting systems to rural customers, scale its manufacturing and develop new products.

FMO’s India investments

The Dutch development bank finances projects through equity and debt instruments in sectors such as agri-business, food and water, energy and financial institutions in underserved regions. Along with the Washington-headquartered International Finance Corporation, it is one of the most active global investment institutions in India.

Last month, it invested about $30.27 million in CreditAccess Grameen Ltd, which operates a microlending business under the Grameen Koota brand name. At the end of October, it proposed a $40 million debt investment in non-banking finance company Ess Kay Fincorp Ltd.

In the same month, it proposed a €7.50 million ($8.29 million) investment in Sahyadri Farmers Producer Co. Ltd. FMO said the proposed investment will help Sahyadri finance the construction of collection centres for the warehousing and transport of produce.

Its other bets include a debt investment of $30 million in Kolkata-based Srei Equipment Finance Ltd, and Nomisma Mobile Solutions Pvt. Ltd, which owns digital payments and loans platform Ftcash.

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