Swicorp consortium buys polysilicon plant

A consortium of three companies has invested to build a plant to produce the main raw material used in solar power plants as private equity firms continue to invest in alternative energy in the Middle East.

Swicorp Joussour, an energy-focussed private equity unit owned by financial services firm Swicorp, the Chemical Development Corporation of Saudi Arabia and solar energy company NorSun have invested in the construction of a polysilicon plant in the industrial city of Jubail in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

NorSun will own 50 percent of the company, with the other two companies holding the remainder. Terms were undisclosed.

Commercial production of polysilicon the raw material used in solar energy is planned to commence in 2010, which allow for subsequent expansions to a capacity of 2000 MW per year. 

Faysal Hamza, executive director of private equity at Swicorp Joussour, said in a statement:  “This project is a very compelling investment for our shareholders with the solar industry’s projected growth of more than 30 percent across the value chain and its contribution towards developing alternative energy in the region.”  

While the Middle East is more renowned as a source of the world’s oil supplies, Middle Eastern private equity firms have played an increasingly role in branching into alternative energy. For example, last year Dubai buyout firm Abraaj Capital bought the Egyptian Fertilizers Company for $1.41 billion in the largest ever deal in North Africa. Demand for the nitrogen fertiliser produced by the company has soared on the back of the nascent biofuel industry.  
  
Nabil Triki, managing director of private equity at Swicorp will be speaking at the Emerging Markets Private Equity Forum in New York hosted by sister magazine Private Equity International and starting tomorrow.