Ex-Citi Bankers Build Out Advisory Shop
September 24, 2010
David Moore and Stephen Smith, former head of renewable energy finance and former renewable energy project financier at the public finance division of Citigroup, are looking to build out their project finance and M&A advisory shop Clean Energy Capital.
The shop is targeting advisory roles on financings for mid-size projects of $5-75 million, says Moore in Berkeley, Calif., adding that developers in that range have trouble garnering financing since most banks look to do larger deals in order to achieve economy of scale. The company is looking to add to experienced project financiers to its team to accommodate the growing business and expects to announce the hire of a senior financier before the end of the year, Moore says, declining to identify the person.
The move comes as many bankers look at advisory work as an alternative to sluggish deal flow, a longtime financier says. A pair of bankers from NordLB has just launched an advisory business (see story, page 7). Marathon Capital and Fieldstone Capital are examples of shops that have succeeded in the line of mid-ticket business, the financier notes, adding that such entities can fail if they take on too many deals with too much uncertainty.
Photovoltaic solar hits the sweet spot for project finance and M&A work, Moore says, adding that many small PV developers need capital to deploy projects while many larger developers and panel manufacturers with a surplus of panels are looking for outlets via acquisitions. The company is also seeing a trend in entities looking to turn brownfield industrial sites, such as former paper mills or small coal-fired generators, into biomass facilities, he says. Equipment leasing deals, which complement renewables financing because of tax benefits, are also a large part of the company’s focus.
Clean Energy is advising a utility on financing a $700 million infrastructure project that it expects to close in the beginning of next year and is also working with a company on financing a PV rooftop project that it expects to close late this year, among other deals. Since its inception last year, Clean Energy has worked on an equity raise for a PV developer and also on a financing for a large wind project. Moore declined to go into specifics for any of the deals.
During his time at Citi, Moore was the lead banker working with the Southern California Public Power Authority on its financing roles in First Wind’s its 200 MW Milford I wind project in Milford, Utah (PFR, 6/12/2009) and in Cannon Power’s 137 MW Tuolumne wind project in Klickitat County, Wash (PFR, 10/2/2009). Prior to his stint at Citi, Moore worked at Lehman Brothers, where he hired Smith, Babcock & Brown and Credit Suisse First Boston. The pair later defected to Citi from Lehman and both left Citi last year. Smith was an economist for Ernst & Young before his time at Citi and Lehman and is based in Atlanta.