Spanish Solar Energy Crisis: Restructuring Abengoa
Abengoa, the Spanish engineering and energy firm, has communicated to Spain’s High Court that it has initiated restructuring negotiations with its creditors in an attempt to avoid insolvency proceedings. If the restructuring is unsuccessful, it would produce one of the major insolvencies in the history of Spain.
On December 18 2015, the Court said it would investigate claims of mismanagement made by Abengoa creditors against the former chairman and the former CEO of the company which is struggling with serious financial problems. In its ruling, the High Court asked Felipe Benjumea, the former chairman whose father founded the company, to post a bond of 11.5 million euros ($12.5 million) to cover potential liabilities within 24 hours. Santiago Seage, chairman of the board of Abengoa Yield, the U.S. business of Spain’s Abengoa, stepped down in November, according to a statement to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission late on Wednesday. Days before Seage’s resignation, Abengoa had begun insolvency proceedings after a potential investor said it would not inject fresh capital into the energy firm. However, according to the company, Seage remains chief executive of Abengoa and a managing director of Abengoa Yield. Its current board chair is Daniel Villalba, former lead independent director.
A great deal of effort is being expended to save Abengoa, not just because of the number of workers, or its importance in the renewable energy field, but because it is a business of significance in Spain, and no one wants to see it fail. Its recovery would have important economic consequences both domestically and internationally. The Bank of America has become one of the largest creditors of Abengoa. Its debt is linked to project finance, so it is paid back from the cash flow generated by the project itself, hence it implies less risk.
Even so, the potential fall of Abengoa could prompt questions and requests for information to the Obama administration, about the federal loans granted to the company. The American Government is one of those interested in the recovery of the Spanish company, mainly because of the enormous investment made in order to set up the company and make it grow, but also because of the interest of the Government in boosting green energy projects.