Eco Investor Update
A Weekly News Update for Environmental Investors
November 2012 - No 105
DUET subsidiary DBNGP Finance Co Pty Ltd has made a $300 million issue of Fixed Rate 7 Year Medium Term Notes. The fixed rate coupon is 6 per cent.
The joint lead managers to the bond issue were Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Institutional Bank.
DBP's chief executive officer, Stuart Johnston, said "The funds raised will be applied to refinance the remaining $170 million of bonds maturing in April 2013 and other higher priced debt facilities. As a result of this successful bond transaction and our recent $155 million Japanese bank debt transaction, DBP's remaining term debt maturity next year is a $138 million bank debt facility due in December 2013 and plans are already underway to refinance it by the end of this year." (ASX: DUE)
Envestra raised $26.9 million and issued 30.9 million shares under its recent dividend reinvestment plan. Directors Michael McCormack and John Allpass participated in the plan.
Due to its considerable accumulated tax losses, Envestra does not expect to frank its dividends until 2025. (ASX: ENV)
Tox Free Solutions
Christopher Leon is the company's new independent non executive director. Until February this year Mr Leon had been for the past 9 years managing director and chief executive of Cement Australia.
Chairman Allan McCallum said Mr Leon has extensive experience across a range of industries, including processing and manufacturing, as well as geographical regions in senior management roles; and that he worked professionally with him 10 years ago in the lead up to the Incitec Pivot merger. Mr Leon has a Bachelor of Science Engineering and a Master of Engineering Science.
At the company's annual general meeting Mr McCallum highlighted Tassal's partnership with WWF Australia. "Through this partnership, we are seeking to ensure that our products are produced in the most ethical, sustainable and environmentally friendly manner," he said.
"As part of the Tassal and WWF Sustainable Aquaculture Partnership, both partners will work towards improving the sustainability of the seafood farming sector and help customers make informed choices through the use of clear and accurate labeling of Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certified products, once the eco label becomes available."
He also discussed the company's
Freshwater Bathing Scheme to combat AGD (amoebic gill
"Tassal, with assistance from the Federal Government, is investing $5.2 million to expand the industry's freshwater storage and distribution system in the Lower Huon Region," he said.
"The project will include the expansion of the existing Stringers Creek Dam and the installation of 20.5 kilometres of undersea pipelines. Gravitating fresh water directly to the farms reduces towing costs, minimizes noise and CO2 emissions, and reduces operational risk. Construction works will commence shortly and be completed in early 2014." (ASX: TGR)
Interest Rate Securities
APA Group Subordinated Notes
No specific news accompanied the plunge. The annual general meeting was on 31 October and the tenor of the speeches was positive.
However, chairman Gene Tilbrook said "We are frequently asked when we expect to pay dividends. Our goal is to reduce debt further and achieve sustainable improvements in our operating earnings before we commence the payment of regular dividends." Net debt is currently $1.05 billion so dividends may be some time away.
And on current trading conditions, chief executive officer Kevin Campbell said conditions are very mixed and weaker, resulting in earnings before interest, tax and depreciation being 6 per cent lower for the first quarter compared to the same period last year. This is despite the benefits from efficiency and cost reduction programs implemented so far.
"So far this financial year we have seen a slow down in the waste streams from the manufacturing, retail and construction markets in Eastern Australia. This in turn has affected the volume of waste being processed by our landfill sites, particularly in Victoria where activity in these sectors has decreased markedly over the past quarter," he said.
"Two other factors are also contributing to this reduction in tonnes.
"The first is the recently introduced Carbon Price Mechanism which, on average, has increased the cost of landfill disposal by an average of 12 per cent per tonne for our customers.
"The second is the anomaly that has been created by the large landfill levy differential between NSW and Queensland. Following the removal of the state waste levy in Queensland and an increase of over 10 per cent in the NSWs waste levy from 1 July to $95.20 per tonne, we are now seeing some transfer of waste volumes from NSW to landfills located just over the Queensland border. This has had a detrimental effect on the tonnes we process at our NSW landfill facility and not been compensated for in Queensland.
"Offsetting some of these declines in volumes is the continuing growth we are experiencing in the resources and oil and gas sectors in Queensland and Western Australia.
"The market in New Zealand also remains quite subdued and we do not anticipate seeing any major growth in this economy until the rebuilding of Christchurch gains momentum."
More generally, Mr Campbell said the waste industry is changing. It is more regulated than ever with governments, environmental authorities, businesses and communities applying increasing pressure on the industry to change its disposal methods.
"The use of a hole in the ground as the best and only way of disposing of waste is no longer being tolerated and rightfully so," he said.
State and Federal Governments are discouraging the use of landfill by increasing waste levies. "This has a significant impact on our business in the 2012 financial year, we collected and paid over $86 million in levies for waste deposited into our landfills, and paid at least the same amount again to others for waste we put into their landfills."
"In FY13, even more money is likely to be paid with the introduction of the Australian Government's Carbon Pricing Mechanism and the soon to be introduced Emissions Trading Scheme in New Zealand.
"As an industry and a company, we need to face these challenges of safely handling and disposing of the increasing amounts of waste that we generate as a society, or we will be left behind.
"And so it is our commitment to do just that move with the times and change.
"Today, we are investing in gas capture technologies that take the methane generated from our landfills and turn it into electricity. We are also investing in liquid treatment that takes leachate and turns it into cleaner water to be disposed of responsibly. We spend millions of dollars each year ensuring the environmental impact of our landfills is minimized and working to meet environmental guidelines.
"We also need to begin to look at alternative methods of waste disposal. Whether it be recycling waste, composting waste or treating waste with new technologies available I want to see what we can do to reduce our dependence on that hole in the ground.
"Ultimately, I want to see us aim for a future where one day, we no longer require landfill for waste disposal. Right now, there are hundreds of alternative waste technologies out there - but very few that are financially viable. We have put in place a team to scour the horizon for alternative waste treatment technologies that achieve this goal profitably," said Mr Campbell. (ASX: TPI)
Group production was 946 GWh, up 4 per cent on the prior corresponding period (pcp). US production at 520 GWh was steady while Australian production at 426 GWh was up 9 per cent.
Group revenue was $63.3 million, up 9 per cent, US revenue was down 4 per cent but Australian revenue was up 19 per cent.
Speaking at the recent Eco Investor Forum, managing director Miles George said the key strategic issues raised by analysts are overleveraged, the complex and opaque US business structure, the restrictive global debt facility and how it inhibits Infigen's growth, escalating operating costs, and the value of Infigen's securities.
Mr George said that Infigen continues to pay down debt and to meet its leverage covenant ratio.
The US operations are performing well.
Despite the global debt facility, Infigen completed Woodlawn Wind Farm on time and budget and its surplus cash flow will add to cash outside of the borrower group, Infigen's Solar Flagships proposal has been referred to ARENA for funding consideration, and the company's development pipeline is advancing the most prospective projects.
Operating costs were consistently within or below guidance through 2010-11 and 2011-12, and the company is managing costs including competitive extended warranty, service and maintenance agreements.
Infigen's book value is 69 cents per security, and improving operating conditions in Australia will create further value. Cash on hand plus the Woodlawn Wind Farm equity interest and the development pipeline alone account for around 25 cents per security, (ASX: IFN)
The company has seen management instability with executive chairman Steve Lowe resigning on 5 October and Trevor Stoney assuming the role of non executive chairman.
In August the company said it would not renew the contract for chief executive Peter Balsarini. This was on the same day it announced that major client Origin Energy would not exercise its option to plant in 2013.
September quarter revenue was $5.8 million and cash at the end of the quarter was $0.9 million. (ASX: CCF)
Net equity fell from $49.1 million to $11.9 million.
CBD said it expects to return to profitability in financial year 2012-13, and released a Shareholder Update outlining progress with a 400 MW pipeline of renewable energy projects.
The company has retired from the AusChina Joint Venture established in April 2011 with Chinese businesses, China Datang Corporation Renewable Power Co., and Tianwei Baobian Electric Co, both of whom remain in the joint venture.
Chairman Mark Vaile said "We believe we can service the joint venture more effectively by developing projects in our own right and then offering these opportunities to AusChina when they are at an advanced stage.
"Our work on the Taralga wind project is a good example of this approach. We are pleased to announce that as this project is well advanced in its development cycle, AusChina will shortly commence its analysis of the project as it remains interested in acquiring the project."
CBD and partner Banco Santander have completed the purchase of Taralga Wind Farm. This gives CBD a development fee of $15 million including the retention of 10 per cent equity in the project. The cost reimbursement and cash portion of the fee is over $7 million.
CBD will project manage construction and operate the Taralga Wind Farm. Construction is scheduled to commence in late 2012 and be completed by January 2015.The $250 million development will have a capacity of 107 MW.
CBD is negotiating the sale of its first Italian solar project to a UK institution for around 12.5 million. It has signed an agreement for the construction and sale of another 25 MW of solar projects in Italy valued at 50 million.
The company has also received an order to build a $7.5 million extension to the Thailand solar farm it built in 2011.
It expects to deliver its first US solar project, valued at US$3.8 million, in late December 2012 with a second stage to follow.
The Australian solar business has been restructured to reduce operating costs and return to profitability this financial year, said CBD. Staff costs including termination payments will give annual salary savings of around $3.5 million.
Following the merger with Westinghouse Solar and to coincide with its NASDAQ listing in early 2013, board changes will include Mr Vaile retiring as chairman and leaving the board, Gerry McGowan becoming executive chairman, and Robert F Kennedy Jnr joining the board.
In the September quarter, CBD Energy had customer receipts of $12.1 million, down from $20.7 million in the June quarter.
Although net operating cash flow was minus $1.7 million, the company said development costs in its wind projects and construction of the first 5 MW of Italian solar projects completed in June were included in development costs of $2.7 million. "Excluding these development costs, net operating cash inflow for the quarter was $937,000," it said.
Since the end of the quarter, CBD has received the payment of $7 million for development fees and reimbursement of costs for the development of the Taralga wind farm project. (ASX: CBD)
Clean TeQ Holdings
September quarter revenue was $2.6 million. However, the number of current projects impacted its working capital and it recorded a negative operating cash flow of $1.5 million. It expects this to reverse as projects are delivered.
The most significant new project it won in the period was a $2.75 million odour control contract with Melbourne Water. (ASX: CLQ)
Chief executive, Andrew Grant, cited a number of factors for the record result including the introduction of a carbon Price; the creation of CO2 Asia and further expansion of CO2 New Zealand; a $3.8 million research grant from the federal government's Biodiversity Fund; a commission by the Tasmanian government to quantify carbon stored in forests; growth in its carbon trading entity, Carbon Banc, which generated revenues of $38 million; expansion of its carbon forests estate to 26,400 hectares; and transitioning major clients' projects into the Carbon Farming Initiative.
He also mentioned the acquisition of Western Australian Resources Ltd for providing opportunities for CO2 Group to diversify its portfolio of businesses.
Mr Grant said the company had profited from a well conceived strategy, including extending its products and services portfolio, and its international expansion. He said CO2 Group had continued to reinvest revenues in the best employees and Research and Development.
CO2 Group has become a preferred carbon adviser to corporate Australia because of its expertise in identifying commercial benefits within carbon compliance activities. He expects more opportunities to arise once the market views the carbon legislation as long term.
"We anticipate that the 2012 /2013 year will be a challenging year for CO2 Group," he said but did not elaborate. (ASX: COZ)
Unlisted Share Funds
CVC Sustainable Investments
The Fund continues to realize assets and return capital. During the year it sold its 23.8 million shares in Environmental Group for $1.66 million.
It also sold its investment in Bio Diesel Producers Ltd for $116,667 million and a pretax loss of $383,333.
It sold its investment in Pro-Pac Packaging Ltd at 45 cents per share for a pretax profit of $528.684.
A reduction in share capital of 5.5 cents per stapled share was paid in August this year. The total cash payment was $4 million.
Directors said the company will continue to invest in small Australian companies with strong return potential and improved environmental outcomes. They are also looking at ways to expand its investment capital and broaden its investment opportunities.
Ceramic Fuel Cells
Meanwhile, in the September quarter the company booked the sale of 47 fuel cell units to revenue and recorded revenue of $1.7 million.
Sales should continue to rise. On 26 October the German State of North Rhine Westphalia announced a subsidy scheme for micro combined heat and power products (mCHP) to commercial customers and Energy Service Companies who install highly efficient mCHP products of less than 50 kilowatts, such as Ceramic Fuel Cells' BlueGen and integrated mCHP products.
The company believes both its products will be classed as highly innovative cogeneration systems and be eligible for a subsidy of 45 per cent of the extra cost of the product compared to a conventional reference product. The subsidy is increased by another 10 to 20 per cent for small and medium sized businesses.
While the precise amount may vary between customers, Ceramic Fuel Cells believes its products are likely to be eligible for an initial subsidy of about 10,000 Euros per unit.
The subsidy begins immediately and will run to the end of 2017. It is in addition to the German Government subsidy of 1,650 Euros per BlueGen, plus the Federal Government feed in tariff for mCHP products.
Also in October Ceramic Fuel Cells realigned its corporate structure and operations to reduce overheads and focus resources on the German, UK and the Benelux markets. In the short term it is reducing its sales investment in Australia, Japan and North America, and transferring some corporate activities to Europe.
It has agreed to terminate its BlueGen distribution agreement with Harvey Norman Commercial but will continue to market BlueGen units to commercial and Government customers through its distributor Hills Industries.
The changes including a reduction in staff of 56 and outsourcing of cell production are expected to give annual cost savings of $5 million.
Chairman Jeff Harding and deputy chairman Roy Rose have retired from the board. (ASX: CFU)
Micro Cap Companies
Australian Renewable Fuels
The rebuild program of the Largs Bay plant is almost complete, and commissioning is scheduled for this month. (ASX: ARW)
EPA Victoria has returned the remaining $2.387 million security bond for the Low Grade Zinc Blending Project. In addition, $0.321 million of the remaining EPA Tasmania security bond was returned. The remaining $40,000 will be returned on completion of remediation works at the Hellyer site. (ASX: INL)
Debtor collections were $3.5 million, the highest recorded for a quarter and up from $2.8 million in the June quarter.
Revenue was $4 million including $3.7 million in operating revenue and $0.3 million as a one off payment from the NSW government. The $3.7 million is the highest revenue the Group has recorded for a quarter. Revenue for the previous quarter was $2.5 million.
Investment in additional resources continues to improve the Group's revenue and increase the capacity of the Group to service its clients, said chairman, Murray d'Almeida. (ASX: PEH),
Phoslock Water Solutions
Charles Abbott has been appointed a non executive director. Mr Abbott has over 40 years of experience in Australian and international legal practise and corporate advisory business. He is a senior partner of law firm Blake Dawson Waldron and is experienced in commercial, banking and finance law and has undertaken a number of successful corporate restructuring projects.
Mr Abbott has been chairman and director of publicly listed property companies and trusts, private equity investment and corporate services companies and international life and general insurance companies. He was a director of the Norwich Union Group for 21 years and for a number of years its deputy chairman.
Style is under administration and its shares are suspended. (ASX: SYP)
Production of PowerEagle's scooters is on track with the forecast 6,000 units expected to be produced and sold by the year end, it said.
During the quarter containers of scooters were delivered to its distributors in France, Denmark, Switzerland, Croatia, Belgium, Germany, Italy and Brazil.
Sailpost, one of the main Italian post operators, has begun trials of the 120SD and 120LD+ models in Milan. Also in Italy, TNT Post has begun using the scooters in Turin, Padua and Bologna.
Vmoto expects to announce an overall distributor for Brazil this quarter. The design of the trial units of 120SD and 120LD+ for Correios Brazil has been finalized. Vmoto said Correios has re iterated it wants to change at least half of its 15,000 scooter fleet to electric and is expanding the testing of Vmoto's products into five Brazilian cities.
In the US Vmoto has received its first order from its new national distributor, which is based in Cleveland. It expects to announce details of the agreement this quarter. (ASX: VMT)
Meanwhile, a new environmental sign has been installed on site that displays current water effluent and air emission readings from the LAMP's processing information system.
These programs follow an earlier commitment to fund additional research and development by investing from revenues generated by the LAMP, it said. These research and development activities will support Malaysia's economic goals and see the sponsorship of research activity in the country.
Mitsubishi Financial Group is again a substantial shareholder in Lynas Corporation with a 5.09 per cent interest. (ASX: LYC)
Micro Cap Companies
SPECIFIC (Sustainable Product Engineering Centre for Innovative Functional Industrial Coatings) is a United Kingdom Innovation and Knowledge Centre led by Swansea University. With Tata Steel as the main industrial partner, it aims to develop functional coated steel and glass products to transform the roofs and walls of buildings into surfaces that will generate, store and release energy.
Photovoltaic coatings are just one type of the energy generating coating being researched at SPECIFIC, said Dyesol. Others include heat producing coatings, carbon capture coatings, anti pollutant coatings, light enhancing coatings, cooling coatings, energy storage coatings, and energy generating coatings.
As well as Tata, another SPECIFIC partner is Pilkington, and Dyesol is involved with both.
"The involvement of these major industrial partners confirms the potential of the smart buildings space as an attractive place to innovate in terms of long term rewards," said Dyesol executive chairman Richard Caldwell.
However, the £20 million SPECIFIC project announced recently at Baglan is not a major focus of Dyesol DSC enabled coil coating or roll to roll steel R&D activities remain based at Shotton in North Wales where Dyesol co locates and collaborates with Tata Steel Europe at the PV Accelerator plant.
The focus is value adding DSC energy generating technology onto coil coated steel, and the achievement of product grid parity where the market opportunity is very significant.
"Dyesol is the exclusive global partner of Tata Steel Europe in the field of DSC research and development and DSC materials supply," said Mr Caldwell. "Work on the DSC enabled steel roofing project is continuing to move ahead towards global industrialization at the PV Accelerator in Shotton." (ASX: DYE)
Earth Heat Resources
Cash at 30 September was $344,399. The company is working with its corporate advisor on potential capital raising initiatives.
The company has reviewed its South Australian geothermal assets and as it is focused on more favourable geothermal areas it is likely to seek to relinquish or rationalize these assets this quarter. (ASX: EHR)
Through its US subsidiary, increasing revenue is coming from Optiblend kit sales with orders for 11 kits worth US$375,000 received during the quarter, said the company.
Eden also sold US$150,000 of used natural gas storage tanks and compressors that it purchased a number of years ago. The remainder of the equipment still held is hoped to generate up to several hundred thousand dollars.
The dual fuel kit can operate on diesel engines and displace up to 70 per cent of the diesel fuel with natural gas. If Hythane (hydrogen enriched natural gas) is used instead of natural gas, the displacement of diesel fuel can be as high as 80 per cent.
Using natural gas reduces greenhouse gas emissions and where it is cheaper than diesel also reduces fuel costs.
The Optiblend market depends on a price differential between natural gas and diesel. "During the quarter, largely as a result of the increasing supply of US shale gas, US natural gas prices reached their lowest levels in almost 10 years, and a large margin developed between the price of natural gas and diesel fuel. This, largely, has been behind the significant increase in enquiries and orders for the Optiblend technology in USA," said Eden. (ASX: EDE)
The placement is to private investors, and will fund work in preparing for future customers, continuing the Carnarvon project and working capital. (ASX: ERJ)
The company's notice of annual general meeting contains a detailed summary of its capital raising activities and many investors since February this year. (ASX: EVM)
Following a review, the company is focusing on its energy efficiency lighting business to generate short term cash flow.
"The company saw very positive results with the completion of a Linfox warehouse in Western Australia and a very successful installation of our products into another warehouse of a major US food manufacturer, with production plants in New South Wales," it said.
"The intention going forward is to ensure we can develop a sustainable cash flow to under write the other longer lead time entities of the business (Geothermal, NewCO2 Fuels and Greenearth Solar Energy)."
The final recommendations of
the review included:
In line with these, the first quarter was dedicated to growing Greenearth Energy Efficiency while implementing changes in the group that would achieve these objectives. (ASX: GER)
Geoff Barnes has become a substantial shareholder with 6.5 per cent. Over the past two weeks he has acquired 18.7 million shares for $89,306. ASX: ISK)
Kimberley Rare Earths
Liquefied Natural Gas
The rights issue was fully underwritten by Cunningham Peterson Sharbanee Securities Pty Ltd, and targeted up to $1.34 million.
Subscribers also received one option exercisable at 8 cents and expiring on 31 December 2015 for every two new shares. (ASX: LTX)
The proceeds will be combined with the recent $10.2 million placement and existing cash of $10 million to progress Metgasco's 2012-13 work program.
"The successful capital raising is a sign of confidence from both our own shareholders and the broader financial community in the need for CSG production in NSW and eastern Australia, and the future of Metgasco," said managing director, Peter Henderson.
Four directors participated in the share purchase plan.
Metgasco has signed AJ Lucas to drill three exploration core wells, two in PEL 426 and one in PEL 13. (ASX: MEL)
A day earlier Petratherm said its rights issue had raised $847,339. The total number of shares applied for was 28,244,647 and the shortfall was 21,333,830 shares. Taylor Collison has three months to place the shortfall.
During the September quarter Petratherm expanded its ground holdings at the Canary Islands with a fifth licence application for Tenerife. It also applied for a new licence over the southern half of the neighbouring island of La Palma, which has had the most recent volcanic activity in the Canary Islands and has very high subsurface temperatures near the eruption sites. (ASX: PTR)
In a concerning development, it said "Preliminary findings have revealed brown coal and uranium potential and work is continuing on identifying areas where exploration potential would be warranted.
"This work is currently ongoing and has not been completed. This review is a continuation of the company's investigations into new non geothermal opportunities."
Also of concern, in the company's annual report executive chairman Anthony Wooles says "In the past few months the Board has reviewed a significant number of projects in the renewable energy, coal, coal seam methane and oil & gas sectors. This review progress is very active and ongoing."
That Torrens could contemplate developing a coal or oil business indicates a weak environmental commitment.
It remains to be seen whether the final consulting report or its project reviews may see Torrens Energy deviate into non environmental sources of energy.
Meanwhile, the company said it continues to monitor government and industry initiatives to develop a geothermal energy industry, with the aim to put together a proposal for funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. (ASX: TEY)
Water Resources Group
The water desalination developer received applications for $601,655.55 under the shortfall placement at the same issue price of 2.5 cents per share as the rights issue. Water Resources Group raised $883,194 under the rights issue, giving a total of $1,484,849.
Chief executive officer, Brian Harcourt, said "During October the company received a proposal from a Saudi Arabian company to combine its ASWRO desalination system with a renewable energy supply and demonstrate this capability as soon as possible in 2013. The company expects to complete initial project agreements before year end." (ASX: WRG)
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