10 December 2014
The Clean Energy Finance Corporation's (CEFC) CEO Oliver Yates has congratulated Sundrop Farms Pty Ltd on securing growth capital for its expansion from global investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR).
"We at the CEFC are pleased that our early commitment of cornerstone debt financing has helped Sundrop Farms attract private capital investors to enable this innovative South Australian agricultural project utilising solar thermal technology to progress," Mr Yates said.
"The Sundrop project demonstrates perfectly the role and expertise the CEFC is bringing to develop finance in the Australian clean energy market. This shows just how we are helping draw in private sources of funding to enable innovative projects to proceed, generating new economic activity and employment in regional areas," he said.
Sundrop Farms CEO Philipp Saumweber said that the CEFC's support had proved invaluable in accelerating what is a world first for commercially and environmentally sustainable arid climate agriculture.
"Without the CEFC we would not have been in a position to negotiate funding with KKR," he said.
"The CEFC underwrote a debt package for the project which helped Sundrop Farms secure a debt package with major Australian commercial lenders. Upon this foundation, we then entered into a partnership with global investment firm KKR, which allowed us to proceed with our state-of-the-art glasshouse in Port Augusta."
The CEFC finance commitment enabled Sundrop Farms to progress plans to build a 20-hectare facility that uses solar technology to desalinate seawater for irrigation as well as heat and cool greenhouses that will produce over 15,000 tonnes of tomatoes annually for markets across Australia. Sundrop Farms has also secured a 10-year contract with Coles supermarkets to supply truss tomatoes from early 2016. The Port Augusta SA project is expected to create 100 jobs during construction and about 200 when the operation is fully up and running.
Sundrop's agreement with KKR means that the CEFC's finance for Sundrop Farms can now be channelled towards other projects. There has been strong interest from the agriculture sector for CEFC finance, with projects worth over $ 1.4 billion currently under consideration.