IKEA stores owner buys stake in $1.4 bln Australian wind farm

MELBOURNE, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Ingka Group, the owner of most IKEA stores globally, will take a 15% stake in a A$2 billion ($1.4 billion) wind farm in its first renewable-energy investment in Australia as it looks to expand in the Asia-Pacific region, the Swedish firm said on Thursday.

The Golden Plains wind farm in Victoria state is being built by privately owned TagEnergy, which secured funding in November for the 756-megawatt-capacity first stage of the project. TagEnergy expects Golden Plains to start producing electricity in August 2024.

IKEA Australia chief executive officer Mirja Viinanen said Ingka expected to invest in more renewable energy projects in Australia and was looking for others in India, China, Japan and South Korea.

"This is the first one in Australia, most likely not the last one, because we would like to accelerate - especially in this region, and in Australia to start with - Ingka investments in renewable energy," Viinanen told Reuters.

TagEnergy's Australia managing partner, Andrew Riggs, said Ingka's was the first corporate direct investment in a utility-scale renewable energy project that would deliver power into the Australian grid.

TagEnergy hopes to secure investment in its projects from more companies focused on environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors.

"We need so much capital in the (energy) transition and to be able to harness the balance sheets of ESG-minded companies like Ingka/IKEA - that's an amazing tool that the renewables industry has yet to leverage," Riggs said in a joint interview with Viinanen.

Tag would welcome Ingka if it wanted to be partner in the Golden Plains wind farm's second stage, which would add 576 MW wind capacity and a 300 MW battery and on which the company hoped to reach financial close in early 2024, Riggs said.

Globally, Ingka Group already owns 575 wind turbines, 20 solar parks, and 935,000 solar panels on the roofs of IKEA stores and warehouses.

($1 = 1.4178 Australian dollars)

Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Bradley Perrett

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