Neoen CEO Sees No Post-Election Slowdown in France

(Bloomberg) -- French renewable energy developer Neoen SA expects its growth in the country to continue whatever the outcome of the legislative election on Sunday, Chief Executive Officer Xavier Barbaro said.

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Despite projections that Marine Le Pen’s National Rally is set to fall well short of an absolute majority, industry lobby groups have been worried about her far-right party’s campaign to halt development of clean-power projects. But Barbaro shrugged off those concerns, saying any threat to investment would affect wind more than solar.

“Neoen in France is mainly active in solar, so we’re not going to slow down whatever the majority is or is not,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg TV in Aix-en-Provence Friday. “We’re convinced that whatever the government is, we can keep on growing,” and create value for shareholders and stakeholders such as local suppliers that help build solar and wind farms, he said.

Neoen, which gets about a quarter of its revenue in France, received a fresh vote of confidence last month from Canadian asset manager Brookfield. After entering talks with Neoen’s main shareholders at the end of May, Brookfield signed an agreement to purchase a majority stake in the company with a view to take it private.

Brookfield doesn’t have a clause that would allow it to exit the deal if French elections were to impair Neoen’s growth prospects, Barbaro said in a response to a Bloomberg question on the matter.

Renewable developers like Neoen provide “cheap” power to users as well as tax revenue to municipalities, which means it’s “still an avenue” for renewable growth in France, Barbaro said. “I’m sure it’s also in Brookfield’s mind,” he added.

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