* Share rise comes after difficult pricing process
* Company viewed as bright spot in challenging cleantech
* Valuation now stands at around $845 mln
(Updates with closing share price, analyst comment, details on
By Olivia Oran and Nichola Groom
Dec 13 Shares of SolarCity Corp jumped
nearly 50 percent during their market debut on Thursday, a day
after the company was forced to slash its IPO price to attract
investors skittish about putting money into the volatile clean
The solar panel installer's stock rose 47.4 percent to close
at $11.79. It hit a session high of $12.70, just 30 cents shy of
the low end of the company's original proposed pricing range.
The San Mateo, California-based company backed by technology
entrepreneur Elon Musk sold 11.5 million shares at $8, raising
$92 million. It initially had planned to sell 10.1 million
shares between $13 and $15 per share.
SolarCity, the top U.S. installer of residential solar
systems is among Silicon Valley's hottest clean technology
companies. Its IPO has been widely anticipated in venture
capital and solar energy circles.
The company has grown rapidly, largely because it allows
customers to lease solar panels by paying a monthly fee,
avoiding the hefty costs of an outright purchase.
Concern that the company's original $1 billion valuation was
too rich initially turned off potential investors, many of whom
have been burned by the poor performance of cleantech stocks
broadly and solar manufacturing stocks in particular, SolarCity
Chief Executive Lyndon Rive said in an interview.
"We don't manufacture equipment, we sell cheaper clean
energy. I thought that that would be enough to convince
investors to look at the fundamentals of the business," Rive
said, adding that investors "just cannot take any risk."
SolarCity's valuation now stands at around $845.3 million.
At the bottom end of its first expected pricing range, SolarCity
would have had a valuation of about $930 million. SolarCity is
now the second-most valuable U.S.-listed solar company behind
panel manufacturer and project developer First Solar Inc
, which has a market capitalization of $2.6 billion.
The clean technology sector has seen its share of
disappointments in the last year. In April, solar power company
BrightSource withdrew its IPO after receiving backing from top
investors including Google Inc. Other high-profile
flame-outs included bankruptcies of solar company Solyndra and
battery maker A123 Systems.
"I'm glad that it got done," Robert W. Baird analyst Ben
Kallo said of SolarCity's IPO. "Even at the discount it got done
at, and even with Elon (Musk) and some of the venture backers
stepping in and buying shares, it's good for the whole
Musk, co-founder of Tesla Motors and PayPal
, is SolarCity's chairman and the first cousin of its
co-founders, Lyndon and Peter Rive. According to a U.S.
Securities and Exchange Commission filing, Musk will hold a 28.4
percent sake in the company after buying $15 million of
SolarCity stock in the IPO. The Rive brothers will each own 5.6
percent stakes following the offering, he filing said.
SolarCity's venture capital backers include Draper Fisher
Jurvetson, DBL Investors, Mayfield Fund, Shea Ventures and Valor
Equity Partners. Draper Fisher Jurvetson said it would buy 1.5
million shares at the IPO price, and DBL said it would buy
SolarCity reported a net loss of $80 million on revenue of
$103.4 million for the nine months ending Sept. 30.
Underwriters for the IPO include Goldman Sachs, Credit
Suisse and Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
(Reporting by Olivia Oran; editing by Gerald E. McCormick,
Matthew Lewis and David Gregorio)