Omnes Capital's investments: Neoen

Sector 
Independent power producer
Entry Date 
05/2009
Business 
Renewable Energy

Neoen

Independent power producer

Neoen is an independent power producer founded in 2008 by Jacques Veyrat and majority-owned by Impala SAS, alongside the Capenergie 2 fund and Bpifrance. Neoen develops, finances, builds and operates power plants running on renewable energy sources (solar, wind, biomass). Neoen’s footprint extends across France, Portugal, Australia, Mexico, Egypt and El Salvador, and it aims to achieve an installed capacity in excess of 1,000 MW by 2017.

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“You are not born an entrepreneur – you become one!"
BARBARO
XAVIER
CEO
of Neoen
Neoen
Project

A pioneer spirit

Less than a year after Neoen was set up, Xavier opened up the company to outside investors. He knew that to have staying power, a firm needs to quickly reach critical mass, build professionalism and take emerging international opportunities.

“We chose partners – Louis Dreyfus (now Impala) and Omnes Capital – who shared our vision and mindset. Like us, they are pioneers, and we are so pleased to share this adventure with them.”

PROFILE
Xavier
BARBARO
CEO
of Neoen
“You are not born an entrepreneur – you become one”, says Xavier Barbaro when asked about the success story that is Neoen, which has grown to become France’s third-largest producer of green energy behind EDF and GDF Suez. Admittedly, when he started out, Xavier did have a few important qualities, not least being a graduate of École Polytechnique and École des Ponts et Chaussées, two prestigious French schools. But there was no hint of his future career as an entrepreneur. He got the bug from Jacques Veyrat, then boss of LDCom. “I was deeply marked by my time at LDCom during the dot-com boom. I saw the beating heart of a business and encountered stories of passion, struggle and survival.”
After a spell in the USA, during which he earned an MBA from Harvard Business School, Xavier Barbaro joined Louis Dreyfus Commodities and led a number of projects in Asia, particularly in the biofuel sector. In 2007, he went back to Jacques Veyrat, who was by then in charge of the Louis Dreyfus Group, and told him that he wanted to work in the energy sector and to take on an entrepreneurial project. With Veyrat’s backing, he got involved in renewable energy with the creation of Neoen. It was a daring undertaking in a sector that then included about 300 firms in France. Xavier put his faith in a pioneering spirit, support from top-tier shareholders and a rigorous approach.
Success came quickly. “We now manage projects that are 600 times larger than the ones we started out with in 2008. The launch of Europe’s biggest solar park shows how far we have come in a few years.” Although he is keeping both feet firmly in France, Xavier is also looking abroad, with numerous projects under development in places as far afield as Australia, Egypt, Mexico and El Salvador. “As the costs of producing solar power tumble, we are taking everyone by surprise. This is just beginning.”
CAREER PATH

Timeline

2001: Started out at LDCom, now Neuf Cegetel
2008: Formation of Neoen, initially as part of Direct Energie. Neoen became fully independent in 2011.
2014: Moved up the next level by launching Europe’s largest photovoltaic park in Cestas near Bordeaux and winning two major tenders in El Salvador and Australia. Also the year when Neoen became the third-largest producer of renewable energy in France.

neoen