Manulife Committing $300 Million to Solar Company CleanCapital

Manulife Investment Management committed $300 million to invest in CleanCapital, an owner and operator of U.S. solar assets.

The insurance giant took a majority stake in CleanCapital, said Thomas Byrne, CEO of the New York-based solar and energy storage company. The size of the stake will grow as CleanCapital invests the Manulife funding. Terms weren’t disclosed.

The deal comes amid a surge in solar-capacity additions -- and as the U.S. contemplates a $2.25 trillion investment in infrastructure, including for renewable power.

“For a number of years, clean energy was niche,” Byrne said in an interview. While there were some investors in middle-market solar, it was harder to find capital in 2015, when CleanCapital was founded, than it is today. “We’ve gotten to this point where the momentum is unstoppable,” he said.

With the Manulife commitment, CleanCapital plans to invest in operating solar systems and fund new photovoltaic and energy-storage projects, according to a statement. It’s already made its first deals under the Manulife arrangement, buying 63 megawatts of operating solar assets across two portfolios. It manages 200 megawatts of projects in 18 states, and its focus includes commercial, industrial and community solar.

Manulife’s commitment was sourced for John Hancock Life Insurance Company’s balance sheet as well as third-party managed accounts. Javelin Capital and Kirkland & Ellis advised CleanCapital on the transaction. Baker McKenzie was legal adviser to Manulife.

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