A venture capital company in Finland has procured a minority share of one of the country’s largest solar energy firms.
ESPOO, Finland – 3i Finland Oy will obtain 39 percent of Naps Systems Oy, a solar power company owned by Fortum. The deal is designed to widen the company’s future ownership base through a strategic partnership and with offering shares to all employees. The deal requires the approval of competition authorities in the European Union. “Solar power has grown to be a very interesting sector for venture capital investors,” says 3i’s Annareetta Lumme. “It has developed into a commercially competitive alternative source of energy that has a great growth potential.” Demand will grow at 15 percent per year and the market will grow tenfold from its current FIM 12 billion (EURO 2 billion) over the next ten years, she explains. Development is also accelerated by the enhanced efficiency and continued decrease in the price of solar modules. “Naps is the market leader in Scandinavia with a good chance of rapidly becoming one of the major European companies in the branch,” she adds. “The strengths of Naps include a professional staff, long experience, quality product, strong brand, and an international sales and distribution network and good references.” “Some of the most interesting market areas for solar power today are grid-connected solar power systems,” says Fortum vice president Vesa Sorri. “In Germany, for example, last year the so-called 100,000-roof program was launched and it turned out to be a major success.” That program involves government support for private consumers to purchase and install their own solar power systems, and the right to sell generated electricity back to the grid. “These are the types of markets we are planning to enter now that 3i has joined us,” says Sorri. Naps was founded in 1986 and claims to be the leading solar power company in Scandinavia. It develops and sells solar power systems to 40 countries, with net sales last year of FIM 45 million (EURO 7.5 million). It has subsidiaries in Sweden, Norway and France. “3i has been investing for a long time now in companies operating in environmental technology, and it will continue to do so,” says 3i’s managing director Ere Kariola. “We believe in future, and we see on the market quite a few technologies that could also offer potential to investors other than the information technology.” “Fortum’s significant investments in solar power have now been taken, quite in line with our strategy, to the next stage of development,” adds Tapio Alvesalo of Fortum. “For capturing the growth potential, 3i is an excellent partner.” Fortum is a major energy company in the Nordic region. It will remain majority owner in the company, and the value of the investment was not disclosed. 3i Finland Oy (previously called SFK Finance) is one of the oldest venture capital companies in Finland. It was formed in 1991 and is part of the European venture capital company 3i Group plc that globally invests EURO 2.4 billion per year. The group operates in 38 locations on three continents.