Jinko IPO failure a harbinger for cleantech public exits?

China-based JinkoSolar has postponed plans to go public in the U.S., blaming poor market conditions (see M&As swing to solar this week).

The news comes less than a week after Chinese polysilicon maker Daqo New Energy also halted plans to IPO in the U.S. (see A week's worth of waste and Daqo New Energy lowers IPO price band).

A handful of well known domestic American cleantech companies have recently announced IPOs on U.S. exchanges. What does this mean for them, and the near future of public exits in cleantech?

Well, the pipeline is good. According to Ernst & Young, 53 domestic and international companies filed paperwork to hold initial public offerings in the U.S. in Q4 2009. It's now "reminiscent of the pre-recession IPO market,” said E&Y in a release.

That's the highest number of new registrants in a single quarter since 2007. There are more deals waiting to go public in the U.S. than in more than two years.

A number of these—as clients that subscribe to the Cleantech Group's weekly deal and IPO watch will note—are high-profile North American brand names in the cleantech sector like Solyndra, Tesla Motors and Codexis (other U.S. cleantech stalwarts are planning to or are already filing to go public, but they'll go unnamed because of Cleantech Group client relationships.)

Jinko and Daqo blame their failure to enter the U.S. market on an American financial sector that's still rehabilitating, and perhaps not quite as recovered as some might suggest.

But that's okay. While many eyes will be watching U.S. exits in coming months, as they should be, it's important to remember that the U.S. has not been where the cleantech IPO action has been of late.

China accounted for 72 percent of the global IPO proceeds raised in 2009, according to data tracked by the Cleantech Group (see Cleantech hits VC deal record in 2009). Almost half the companies that went public in cleantech last year were in China, with 11 IPOs in the fourth quarter alone raising a combined $3.1 billion, a record quarterly total.

The largest cleantech IPO of 2009 was China Longyuan Electric Power Group, which raised $2.23 billion on the Hong Kong exchange.

Continuing that momentum, last week China Huaneng Group, the country's largest power producer, announced it plans to float shares of its wind power unit, aiming to raise $1 billion from a Hong Kong initial public offering this year.

So false starts aside for Jinko and Daqo, and despite concerns about volatility in the U.S., public exits are alive and well for cleantech. Just look east.


A former managing director of the Cleantech Group, Dallas Kachan is now managing partner of Kachan & Co., a cleantech research and advisory firm that does business worldwide from offices in San Francisco, Toronto and Vancouver. Its staff have been covering, publishing about and helping propel clean technology since 2006. Kachan & Co. offers research reports, consulting and other services that help accelerate its clients’ success in clean technology. Details at www.kachan.com.