Manulife Arranges $194.5 Million in Financing for 90 MW Wind Farm in Ontario

Manulife Financial today announced the completion of a $194.5 million financing with Boralex Inc. for the construction and long term operation of a portfolio of nine 10 megawatt ("MW") wind farms in south-western Ontario.

Manulife formed and led a syndicate of Canadian life insurance companies to provide a total $194.5 million in construction and term loans of 21-year term to support the Thames River Project. Manulife is the arranger and agent with an investment of $88.5 million.

The 90 MW Thames River Wind Energy Project consists of a portfolio of nine separate operationally and contractually independent 10 MW wind farms located in south-western Ontario between Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie. The most westerly 10 MW wind farm is approximately 20 kilometers south of Windsor and the most easterly wind farm is approximately 30 kilometers south-east of Chatham. Four of the nine wind farms have been completed and commissioned and the remaining wind farms are under construction with scheduled completion later this year.

Boralex Inc., a publicly listed company (TSX: BLX), is headquartered in Kingsey Falls, Quebec. The company developed its first power project in the early 90s with the construction of Canada’s first natural gas fuelled cogeneration power plant in Kingsey Falls, Quebec. It has over 20-years of power development and operations experience, having built up a portfolio of 417 MW capacity (29 power stations) in United States, Canada and France consisting of wind energy, hydroelectric, biomass, and natural gas.

Including the completion of the last 50 MW at Thames River and the 49 MW currently under construction in France, the installed capacity will increase to 516 MW by the end of 2010. Boralex’s wind energy portfolio will then account for more than 50% of its total installed capacity. All 259 MW benefit from long-term power purchase agreements signed with strong counterparties.

"We are very pleased to assist Boralex through the arrangement and providing of financing to support this significant wind power project. The Thames River Project is well underway and we look forward to its successful completion by the end of this year," said Bill Sutherland, Senior Managing Director and Head of the Canadian Project Finance Team at Manulife Financial. "As one of Canada’s industry leaders in financing renewable energy generally, and wind farms in particular, Manulife backs projects like Thames River that are environmentally friendly and help support the long-term economic growth of Ontario, Canada and North America."

"At Boralex, we see renewable energy, through projects like Thames River, as a vital growth industry, not only across Canada, but throughout the world for years to come," said Jean-Francois Thibodeau, Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer of Boralex. "We are firmly committed to the growth of this business and we appreciate Manulife’s support of the industry and its expertise in providing financing on these projects."

This wind farm financing is the fifth arranged by Manulife over the past year. The company anticipates completing several additional renewable power project financings in 2010. Manulife is a leading arranger and provider of debt financing for renewable energy projects in Canada. In the past five years, it has arranged $1.6 billion and provided $900 million in financing for 12 projects in Canada.

Each of the nine 10 MW wind farm will have five 2 MW E-82 wind turbines from Enercon GmbH, Germany’s oldest and largest wind turbine manufacturer and the world’s fourth largest (in terms of annual market share). More than 1,600 of the E-82 wind turbines have been installed worldwide since 2006.

Electricity generated by the nine 10 MW wind farms will be sold to Ontario Power Authority under the Advanced RESOP contracts.

Manulife Financial is a leading Canadian-based financial services group serving millions of customers in 22 countries and territories worldwide. Operating as Manulife Financial in Canada and Asia, and primarily through John Hancock in the United States, the Company offers customers a diverse range of financial protection products and wealth management services through its extensive network of employees, agents and distribution partners. Funds under management by Manulife Financial and its subsidiaries were Cdn$440 billion (US$420 billion) at December 31, 2009.

Manulife Financial Corporation trades as ‘MFC’ on the TSX, NYSE and PSE, and under ‘945’ on the SEHK. 

Boralex is a major independent power producer whose core business is the development and operation of power stations that generate renewable energy.

Employing over 300 people, the Corporation operates 29 power stations with a total installed capacity of 417 megawatts ("MW") in Canada, in the Northeastern United States and in France. In addition, the Corporation has, alone or with its European and Canadian partners, power projects under development that will add close to 300 MW of power, of which almost 100 MW will come online by the end of fiscal 2010. Boralex is distinguished by its diversified expertise and in-depth experience in three power generation segments – wind, hydroelectric and thermal.

Boralex also holds a 23% interest in Boralex Power Income Fund, which has 10 power stations with a total installed capacity of 190 MW in Quebec and the United States. These sites are managed by Boralex.

Boralex shares are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) under the ticker symbol BLX.