MUMBAI India's Adani Group is looking at buying the local assets of SunEdison Inc, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters, after the heavily indebted U.S. solar power developer sought partners for its projects.
SunEdison, which a unit said was at "substantial risk" of bankruptcy, has several solar plants in India and last year won an auction to sell solar power in the country at what was then a record-low tariff. The win brought criticism from analysts for aggressive bids despite it needing to strengthen its finances.
The auction was part of government efforts to raise solar energy capacity by five times this decade to end chronic power shortages.
But troubles for SunEdison at home - facing $12 billion debt and regulatory scrutiny - has cast doubt over its ability to take advantage of India's biggest push toward renewable energy.
Standing to gain from SunEdison's predicament are companies such as Adani that have solar projects and want to expand.
Adani has already told bankers it is interested in SunEdison's assets, the people said, declining to be identified as they were not authorised to speak publicly on the matter.
Adani did not respond to requests for comment.
Foreign firms such as SunEdison, compatriot First Solar Inc and China's Trina Solar Ltd are important for India as the country does not have the know-how or money to develop large-scale solar projects.
SunEdison reached a $4 billion agreement last year with Adani to build a factory in India making solar cells and panels, but has since ended the deal.
The U.S. company also runs solar plants in India with capacities of about 450 megawatts (MW). It has another 800 MW of capacity under development and won a tender for a 500 MW plant in the southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh.
Those assets could also draw interest from Japan's SoftBank Group Corp and Taiwan's Foxconn Technology Co Ltd, who have pledged to invest about $20 billion in Indian solar projects with local partners.
Pashupathy Gopalan, SunEdison's Asia-Pacific head, said nearly 500 megawatts of its Indian projects are funded and under construction, and that it was in talks to sign partners.
"As a business model, we continue to pursue equity partnerships in our projects to the extent allowed by PPA (power purchase agreements with buyers)," Gopalan said, without elaborating.
On Friday, The Wall Street Journal said SunEdison planned to file for bankruptcy protection in coming weeks, citing people familiar with the matter.
(Reporting by Promit Mukherjee and Krishna N. Das; Editing by Douglas Busvine and Christopher Cushing)
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