Companies Bet Big on Clean Tech M&A

Taking advantage of strong cash balance sheets, global companies in 2011 made heavy investments in clean tech companies, to the tune of about $30 billion.

In total in 2011, there were 391 deals for a total of $41.2 billion, an increase of 156% over 2010. Most of those dollars came from global companies, although venture capital investment accounted for about $9 billion, the second highest investment year since 2008. Those figures were compiled by Clean Tech Group and published as part of their end-of-year analysis in a briefing this month.

Solar and energy efficiency were the most heavily favored sectors, with solar taking 20% share of investments in 2011. However, energy efficiency is clearly gaining. Solar was represented in 17% of some 713 transactions CleanTech Group tracked, while energy efficiency was represented in 21% of the deals. Plus, the number of solar transactions declined 17% while the number increased 9.8% for energy efficiency.

Clean Tech Group CEO Sheeraz Haji said a big story of the year was activity by global companies. Schneider Electric, for example, made five acquisitions during the year, including software companies D5X, Telvent and Vizelia, energy management firm Summit Energy, and a 74% stake in Luminous Power Technologies.

Siemens has also been active in recent years, making big news by purchasing eMeter in December. The company has also purchased Site Controls, Energy4U and Solel during the past three years.

Haji said something the group is watching to see if companies go the route of purchasing stakes in clean tech firms to get a feel for how the space works and follow up with acquisitions, a trend he says the industry may see.

Generally, the 2011 year-end totals mirrored the figures for the last quarter of the year, Haji said.

In the last quarter of 2011, solar led all sectors in capital raised with $520 million, while energy efficiency had the most deals at 36, said Haji.

Not to be outdone, transportation also logged a $382 million quarter, largely due to a $200 million financing round led by Better Place, a company focused on mass producing electric vehicles for families. General Electric participated in the transaction as a minority investor.


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