VivoPower International PLC is a solar-power company, founded by Arowana in August 2014 and now headquartered in London. In less than three years, VivoPower has been scaled up to become a profitable global enterprise listed on the NASDAQ. For the year ended 31 March 2017, VivoPower delivered revenues of US$32m and an EBITDA of US$18.9m and its future growth outlook is strong.
Initially, Arowana’s strategy was to focus VivoPower on Australia and Asia, but we quickly realised that there were limited opportunities of sufficient scale in these markets at the time. As a result, we pivoted VivoPower’s strategy to look at opportunities in the world’s largest market – the United States – and, on a selective basis, elsewhere in the world.
After establishing VivoPower, key members of the Arowana team spent six months on the ground in the United States in 2015, immersing themselves in the solar industry. As a result, VivoPower was able to secure a couple of utility scale solar projects to develop in the US market. Arowana also identified that there was a larger pool of experienced solar professionals in the United States and the United Kingdom and went on to build a global team, shifting headquarters to London. Today, VivoPower has offices and personnel in London, New York, Dallas, San Francisco, Sydney, Brisbane, Singapore and Manila. It has since successfully developed and operated utility scale solar farms in the United States generating 91MW of power that is delivered to over 21,000 homes. VivoPower subsequently built up a 1.8GW portfolio of solar projects in the United States making it one of the top 5 largest solar developers in North America, as ranked by the size of its development portfolio. In addition, VivoPower has developed solar projects in Australia including Amaroo, the largest solar rooftop system for a school in the country.
The entrepreneurs among us will appreciate that no business is without its challenges, and the most significant thus far have manifested at the most inopportune times during the scaling-up journey of VivoPower. These included the demise of the largest solar company in the world, SunEdison, in April 2016 (which turned solar from a hot sector on the NASDAQ into an unpopular sector making capital raising difficult), Brexit in June 2016 (which created significant foreign currency market volatility), the last-minute withdrawal of a solar contractor in July 2016 (which threatened the build of the NC-31 solar plant), Hurricane Matthew in October 2016 (which impacted the programme for financial close and build of the NC-47 solar plant), and the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States in November 2016 (which made various stakeholders nervous about renewable-energy policy and future opportunities).
These challenges have been overcome and have spurred significant achievements, including assembling a highly experienced global team across four continents (the United States, the United Kingdom/Europe, Asia, Australia), redomiciling headquarters from Australia to London to reflect the strategic shift of VivoPower’s operations globally, consummating 91MW of cross-border solar project BTO (build, transfer, operate) transactions involving United States projects and Australian owners, exceeding profit guidance, building a scalable enterprise platform (across human resources, accounting, finance and governance) and listing on the NASDAQ stock market.
Arowana maintains a majority shareholding in VivoPower and continues to work closely with its leadership team to overcome growing pains challenges that are part and parcel of the scaling up journey. We maintain a steadfast long-term commitment to help VivoPower continue to scale up.