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WFW advises Natwest on £30m SONIA project financing18 September 2020

Watson Farley & Williams (“WFW”) has advised National Westminster Bank plc (“NatWest”) as lenders on the £30m financing of a portfolio of UK rooftop and ground-mounted solar PV projects, owned by Innova Energy (“Innova”), with a total installed capacity of 57 MW.

This is the first project financing undertaken by NatWest using SONIA (the Sterling Overnight Index Average), which is being implemented as part of the LIBOR (London Inter-bank Offered Rate) transition, a process that has been development for a number of years and is expected to conclude with the discontinuation of the publication of LIBOR by the end of 2021.

NatWest was the leading lender to the UK renewables sector by number of transactions between 2010 and 2019, according to InfraDeals. The bank has committed to provide £10bn of funding and financing to the sustainable energy sector by the end of 2020 to accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy.

Innova is a private equity backed renewable energy company specialising in solar photovoltaic generation. Its portfolio comprises a mixture of operational ground-mounted and rooftop solar assets across the UK benefitting from accreditation under both the ROC and FIT regimes.

The multidisciplinary WFW London team advising Natwest was led by Energy Partner Daisy East, supported by Associates Abraham Knight, Aimee Myhre, Mark Masson and Harry Osborne, and Trainees Esteira Hiwaizi and Matthew Robinson on finance matters. In preparing the due diligence reports, Associates Tim Williams and Jonathan Forrest were supported by Real Estate Senior Associates John Rosmini, Charlotte Williams and Peter Rutledge, Planning Senior Associate Rachael Davidson and Regulatory Senior Associate Marianne Anton. Tax advice was provided by Partner Tom Jarvis and Associate Andrew Holland and corporate advice was provided by Partner Jan Mellmann and Associate Sebastian Lello.

Daisy commented: “I am delighted to have advised Natwest on this landmark deal using SONIA, which underlines WFW’s position as the go-to legal adviser for project financings in the highly attractive and ever-expanding solar PV market. Once again, we have demonstrated our capacity to deliver innovative solutions to our clients across multiple service lines”.

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