Wind farm drives Renova Energia’s bet on restructuring

Renova Energia, the embattled power generation company under protection from creditors, is trying to get back on its feet with Alto Sertão III, a wind farm about to go online. The 432-megawatt complex, with a capacity to supply 1 million homes, is expected to start commercial operation in the coming days and generate an EBTIDA of R$250 million per year with electricity sales, allowing the company to honor its debts.

Marcello Milliet, from the financial restructuring consultancy Integra Associados, took over as CEO of the company in 2019 with the mission of putting the house in order. With the company virtually broke and a debt pile of R$3 billion, the executive needed to raise R$360 million to resume construction works halted almost five years before.

To get Renova out of the hole, Mr. Milliet had to follow a strict schedule of recovery that included the sale of a stake in Brasil PCH and the Serra da Prata hydroelectric complex, which generated R$1.36 billion, to reduce the company’s indebtedness and pay off the loan for the works in the wind farm.

In the meantime, the generation company also resumed investments, ended the arbitration dispute with GE over the supply of wind turbines and signed a partnership with Vestas for the operation and maintenance of Alto Sertão III. “We took over the company with R$3 billion in debt and took more R$360 million. We ended the year with about R$2 billion of debt,” he said.

Since two thirds of the original debt still remain, the executive considers that Alto Sertão III is the hope to settle the rest of the debt in the market, since before Renova could only count on limited funds from dividends from Brasil PCH and with financial support from Cemig, a former partner that injected money in the judicial reorganization.

“With the sale of the assets, the resumption of work on Alto Sertão III and compliance with the execution schedule, the company will be generating resources again by the end of this year, and when the farm is ready, at the end of the first half of 2022, it will generate about R$250 million per year, which is enough for us to meet our commitments,” he said.

In January, 38 wind turbines will start operating, which will inject 113.1 MW into the National Interconnected System (SIN). And by the end of the first half of the year, 155 will be operating with energy directed to the regulated market and to the free market. Part of the Alto Sertão III funds will be used to pay off the company’s debt, and another part will be used for operations.

The company plans to pay the debt with creditors within ten years but expects to shorten this period thanks to 12 preliminary permits from state environmental agencies to build new wind farms in Bahia, Paraíba, Pernambuco and Piauí, totaling 3.62 GW.

“We will sell some of these projects because we don’t have the financial capacity to build all of them. We intend to dispose of about 2 GW,” he said. “Part of the funds will be set aside for debt amortization and part will be injected into the company.”

In November, Angra Partners bought Cemig Geração e Transmissão’s stake in Renova and now holds 30.3% of the company’s voting capital and is part of the control block with the other shareholders. With the entry of the new partner, Mr. Milliet believes that Renova will have more financial capacity to invest in new projects since the fund is specialized in raising resources.

“Angra Partners brings not the expectation of profitability, but also of resuming the capacity to tap the financial market,” the executive said.

Source: Valor international