Category Archives: Renewables

Two Houston blank check companies complete their IPOs

Two Houston-area SPACs (Special Purpose Acquisition Corporations), otherwise known as blank check companies, have completed their Initial Public Offerings (IPO).

ESM Acquisition Corporation

ESM Acquisition Corporation has completed its $300 million IPO.  The company just filed its registration statement in February.

The CEO of the company is Sir Mick Davis, who was the CFO of mining group Billiton plc (the predecessor to BHP Group) and the CEO of Xstrata plc, an Anglo-Swiss mining company that merged with Glencore plc in 2013. Until July 2019, Mr. Davis was the CEO and Treasurer of the British Conservative Party. He was born in South Africa but has British nationality. He is based in London.

The Chairman is John Raymond, who is Co-Founder and CEO of The Energy and Minerals Group, a leading natural resources-focused private equity firm, based in Houston. It manages funds of approximately $10 billion. ESM has its head office in the River Oaks area.

The company is looking for companies that mine commodities that are critical in order to achieve de-carbonization (think batteries for electric vehicles).

Peridot Acquisition Corp II

Peridot Acquisition Corp II upsized its IPO and raised $360 million. The Company’s sponsor is an affiliate of Carnelian, a Houston-based investment firm that focuses on opportunities in the North American energy space.

The company intends to target opportunities and companies that focus on environmentally sound infrastructure, industrial applications and disruptive technologies that eliminate or mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and/or enhance resilience to climate change.

The first Peridot Acquisition went public in September with its $300 million IPO. It In February, it announced plans to take Li-Cycle, a battery recycler, public.


ESM Acquisition Corp announces pricing of $300m IPO

Peridot Acquisition Corp II announces upsized $360m IPO



Contrasting fortunes for two Houston IPO’s pricing this week

There were contrasting fortunes for the two Houston-based companies that were pricing their Initial Public Offerings this week.

Sunnova Energy International, a residential solar energy provider, priced its IPO at $12 per share.  That’s below the expected range of between $16 and $18 per share. However the company is selling the same number of shares (17.6 million). At that price, the company will raise $221 million and have a market value of $1.1 billion.  The shares will begin trading on the NYSE on July 25 under the symbol NOVA.

Castle Biosciences, based in Friendswood, priced its IPO at $16 per share. That’s at the top end of the expected range of $14 to $16 per share. Also the company also increased the number of shares on offer from 3.3 million to 4.0 million. The gross proceeds are expected to be $64 million. The shares will also begin trading on July 25, but on the Nasdaq under the symbol CSTL.

The company is a commercial-stage dermatological company that uses genomes to provide physicians and their patients with more accurate treatment decisions. The main product is a multi-gene expression profile test that predicts the risk of metastasis or recurrence for patients diagnosed with invasive cutaneous melanoma, a deadly skin cancer.

I’ve added the two companies to the list of Houston-area public companies which you can see here. However I have deleted American Midstream from the list, whose deal to go private was completed yesterday.

Sunnova IPO pricing press release

Castle Biosciences IPO pricing press release

Shareholders of failed Houston biofuels company to share $4.5m settlement


There has been a settlement of the class action lawsuit concerning former shareholders of KiOR which went into Chapter 11 in November 2014. KiOR was a company that aimed to produce biofuels on a commercial scale. It was funded by famed Silicon Valley venture capitalist Vinod Khosla and, for a while, included Condoleezza Rice as a non-executive director.

KiOR had its headquarters in Pasadena, TX and completed an Initial Public Offering (IPO) in June 2011, raising $150 million and giving it a market capitalization of $1.5 billion, despite the company having no revenues at that time.

Between 2011 and 2012 the company built a commercial production facility in Columbus, Mississippi that was meant to convert wood chips into a synthetic crude oil using a special chemical at high temperature and pressure. The $218 million cost was funded, in part, using a $75 million loan from the state of Mississippi. Unfortunately the company was never able to achieve anywhere close to the yields they promised and the plant was idled in January 2014.

Shareholders who bought shares between June 2011 and March 2014 will share in a $4.5 million gross settlement (though $1.7 million of this is going to the lawyers for legal fees and expenses). Net, this amounts to about 7 cents per share.

The state of Mississippi is still suing Khosla and key executives of KiOR for alleged fraud. In return for the $75 million loan, KiOR promised to spend $500 million, build three biofuel factories in the state and create more than 1,000 direct and indirect jobs by 2015. By the time KiOR went into Chapter 11, the state had only been repaid $6 million.

Biofuel case: $4.5M for investors under federal settlement