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Bamboo Capital Partners, the Government of Madagascar and the World Bank partner to launch USD$40 million energy access fund for Madagascar

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Bamboo Capital Partners, the Government of Madagascar and the World Bank partner to launch USD$40 million energy access fund for Madagascar 1
  • The Off-Grid Market Development Fund (OMDF) aims at increasing access to electricity via off-grid solar energy solutions, from solar lamps to entry-level Solar Home Systems (SHS)
  • OMDF launches a Results-Based Financing (RBF) grant program with first submission window for companies from 28 October to 8 December
  • In parallel, OMDF is providing credit solutions to distributors and financial institutions active in the off-grid solar sector
  • OMDF is managed by Bamboo Capital Partners in partnership with Société Générale Madagasikara, which will host the funds and provide the financing.

Bamboo Capital Partners (‘Bamboo’), the impact investing platform, has been appointed by the Government of Madagascar and the World Bank as the international fund manager for the Off-Grid Market Development Fund (‘OMDF’ or ‘the Fund’), a USD$40 million renewable energy access fund.

OMDF was established in April and launches its financing operations with a first window for proposals for results-based financing (RBF) from 28 October to 8 December. In parallel, OMDF will also provide debt financing to solar distributors and financial institutions that finance end-customers or solar distributors in Madagascar.

Société Générale Madagasikara has been appointed to host the OMDF funds and provide the financing.

OMDF aims at improving electricity access for households and SMEs in Madagascar through off-grid solar energy solutions. In 2020, it is estimated that less than a quarter of the Malagasy population has access to electricity. Rural areas of the country are unequally electrified, with electrification rates around 5%. Madagascar offers a potential customer base of 2.5 to 5 million households for solar lamps and market entry solar home systems. The Fund will target companies that provide Malagasy households with quality products that are Lighting Global / VeraSol certified.

The Fund was initiated by the Government of Madagascar, with funding from the World Bank. Bamboo’s partnership with Société Générale Madagascar combines the local market knowledge of Société Générale Madagascar with Bamboo’s deep expertise of managing international funds that invest in clean energy access solutions.

“Energy access remains a critical global challenge, with 800 million people without access to a reliable source of electricity. This problem is particularly acute in Madagascar, where access to electricity is a challenge for the large majority of households, especially those in rural areas of the country,” said Jean-Philippe de Schrevel, Founder and Managing Partner of Bamboo Capital Partners. OMDF builds on our decade of experience investing in the renewable energy sector and we are looking forward to collaborating with the Government of Madagascar, the World Bank and Société Générale Madagascar to provide clean, reliable and decentralized sources of energy to the underserved Malagasy population.”

The Fund will offer both an RBF facility and a credit line for off-grid solar companies and financial institutions active in the off-grid solar sector.

RBF grants support off-grid solar distributors in developing their operations in Madagascar. The grants subsidize companies that offer quality products and services, with additional incentives for those offering end-customer financing solutions via pay-as-you-go models or through MFIs. This facility will also help new market participants overcome entry barriers through a partial prepayment of the RBF grant. OMDF will accept grant proposals from 28 October to 8 December 2020 and again from early 2021.

OMDF’s credit offering specifically finances working capital, stock building of quality products and end-consumer financing. It will also contribute to create credit history in Madagascar to attract further private sector financing.

LEAD Project Coordinator, Jacquis Randriamahazomana, said: “OMDF aims to improve access to electricity for households, especially those scattered, far from the grid, and for SMEs, through the use of solar products in Madagascar. The project will thus support the main objective of the Government of Madagascar’s energy policy, namely “to ensure universal access to reliable, sustainable and modern energy services at an affordable cost” in line with the implementation approach of prioritizing socially equitable renewable energy solutions”.

Zdenek Metelak, Chief Executive Officer of Société Générale Madagasikara, added: “Société Générale Madagasikara and the entire Société Générale Group are extremely honored to contribute to this initiative. This large-scale project is perfectly in line with our commitment to the development of renewable energy, which is part of the Société Générale Group’s Grow With Africa program. We are thus committed to energy operators who support renewable energy projects and energy inclusion of populations.”

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Dollar edges lower as investors favor higher-risk currencies

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Dollar edges lower as investors favor higher-risk currencies 2

By Stephen Culp

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The dollar lost ground on Friday as market participants favored currencies associated with risk-on sentiment over the safe-haven greenback.

Risk appetite was stoked by better-than-expected economic data and expectations that U.S. President Joe Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package will come to fruition.

“The dollar’s down against other currencies but not by a whole lot,” said Oliver Pursche, president of Bronson Meadows Capital Management in Fairfield, Connecticut. “I expect the dollar to be where it is now at the end of the year, and the main reason for that is while I see some signs of improvement in the economy, monetary policy is going to stay where it is.”

“I don’t think the dollar is underpriced or overpriced,” Pursche added.

For the week, the dollar slid about 0.2% against a basket of world currencies, the euro was essentially flat, and the yen lost more than 0.5%. But the British pound advanced more than 1.1% against the dollar, its best week since mid-December.

Bitcoin continues soar to record highs. The world’s largest cryptocurrency was last up 6.6% at $54,961.67, hitting $1 trillion in market capitalization.

Its smaller rival, ethereum, was last up 0.7% at $1,953.28.

The digital currencies have gained about 89% and 1,420%, respectively, year to date, leading some analysts to warn of a speculative bubble.

“One concern I’ve always had (about cryptocurrencies) is how susceptible they are to manipulation,” Pursche said. “But they’re going to continue to gain legitimacy.”

“While it’s great that Tesla made an investment in bitcoin, I’m more intrigued by Blackrock and other major investment firms taking a hard look at cryptocurrencies as a viable investment.”

The Australian dollar, which is closely linked to commodity prices and the outlook for global growth, was last up 1.21% at $0.7863, touching its highest since March 2018.

The New Zealand dollar also gained, closing in on a more than two-year high, and the Canadian dollar advanced as well.

Sterling, which often benefits from increased risk appetite, rose to an almost three-year high amid Britain’s aggressive vaccination program. It had last gained 0.27% to $1.40.

The euro showed little reaction to a slowdown in factory activity indicated by purchasing manager index data, rising 0.21% to $1.2116.

The yen, gained ground against the dollar and was last at 105.495, creeping above its 200-day moving average for the first time in three days.

(Reporting by Stephen Culp, additonal reporting by Tommy Wilkes; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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Shares rise as cyclical stocks provide support; yields climb

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Shares rise as cyclical stocks provide support; yields climb 3

By Saqib Iqbal Ahmed

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A gauge of global equity markets snapped a 3-day losing streak to edge higher on Friday, as the recent selling pressure on high-flying big technology-related stocks eased even as investors showed a preference for economically sensitive cyclical sectors.

Oil prices fell from recent highs as Texas energy companies began preparations to restart oil and gas fields shuttered by freezing weather, while the U.S. Treasury yields extended their recent rise.

The MSCI’s global stock index was up 0.47% at 681.88, after losing ground for three consecutive sessions.

On Wall Street, stocks steadied as cyclical sectors edged higher while tech names made modest advances after concerns about elevated valuations led to some selling in recent sessions.

“What we saw (this week) represents a market that is tired and may not do very much. So we are headed for some sort of a pullback, but I don’t think we’re there just yet,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York.

“Investors are not really pulling out of the market, but they are becoming more cautious. It already has factored in another good positive earnings season.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 119.97 points, or 0.38%, to 31,613.31, the S&P 500 gained 12.93 points, or 0.33%, to 3,926.9 and the Nasdaq Composite added 92.58 points, or 0.67%, to 13,957.93.

The S&P 500 technology and communication services sectors, housing high-value growth stocks, were among the smallest gainers in early trading, while financials, industrials, energy and materials rose more than 1%.

European shares edged higher on Friday as an upbeat earnings report from Hermes boosted confidence in a broader economic recovery. The pan-European STOXX 600 index was 0.64% higher.

U.S. Treasury yields on the longer end of the curve rose to new one-year highs on Friday as improved risk appetite boosted Wall Street, while the yield on 30-year inflation-protected securities (TIPS) turned positive for the first time since June.

Core bond yields have pushed higher globally, led by the so-called reflation trade, where investors wager on a pick-up in growth and inflation. Growing momentum for coronavirus vaccine programs and hopes of massive fiscal spending under U.S. President Joe Biden have spurred reflation trades.

The benchmark 10-year yield was last up 5.1 basis points at 1.338%, its highest level since Feb. 26, 2020.

Oil prices retreated from recent highs for a second day on Friday as Texas energy companies began preparations to restart oil and gas fields shuttered by freezing weather.

Unusually cold weather in Texas and the Plains states curtailed up to 4 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil production and 21 billion cubic feet of natural gas, analysts estimated.

Brent crude futures were down 28 cents, or 0.44%, at $63.65 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 66 cents, or 1.09%, to $59.86.

Copper jumped to its highest in more than nine years on Friday and towards a third straight weekly gain as tight supplies and bullish sentiment towards base metals continued after the Chinese New Year.

Spot gold XAU= was down 0.58% at $1,785.71 an ounce.

The dollar lost ground on Friday, extending Thursday’s decline as improved risk appetite sapped demand for the safe-haven currency and drew buyers to riskier, higher-yielding currencies. The dollar index was off 0.295%.

Bitcoin hit yet another record high on Friday, hitting a market capitalization of $1 trillion, blithely shrugging off analyst warnings that it is an “economic side show” and a poor hedge against a fall in stock prices.

(Reporting by Saqib Iqbal Ahmed; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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Oil falls after surging past $65 on Texas freeze

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Oil falls after surging past $65 on Texas freeze 4

By Stephanie Kelly

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Oil prices fell on Thursday despite a sharp drop in U.S. crude inventories, as market participants took profits following days of buying spurred by a cold snap in the largest U.S. energy-producing state.

Brent crude fell 41 cents, or 0.6%, to settle at $63.93 a barrel. During the session it rose as high as $65.52, its highest since January 2020.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 62 cents, or 1%, to settle at $60.52 a barrel, after earlier reaching $62.26, the highest since January 2020.

Brent had gained for four straight sessions before Thursday, while WTI had risen for three.

“The market probably got a little bit ahead of itself,” said Phil Flynn, a senior analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago. “But make no mistake, this selloff in oil doesn’t solve the problems. The problems are going to persist.”

Though some Texas households had power restored on Thursday, the state entered its sixth day of a cold freeze. It has grappled with refining outages and oil and gas shut-ins that rippled beyond its border into Mexico.

The weather has shut in about one-fifth of the nation’s refining capacity and closed oil and natural gas production across the state.

“The temporary outage will help to accelerate U.S. oil inventories down towards the five-year average quicker than expected,” SEB chief commodities analyst Bjarne Schieldrop said.

Prices dropped despite a decrease in U.S. oil inventories. Crude stockpiles fell by 7.3 million barrels in the week to Feb. 12, the Energy Information Administration said on Thursday, compared with analysts’ expectations for an decrease of 2.4 million barrels.

Crude exports rose to 3.9 million barrels per day, the highest since March, EIA said.

“The big nugget was the big jump in exports of crude oil,” said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital in New York. “We’ll have to see what happens with that next week weather in Texas, but I have been looking for a pickup there for a while.”

Oil’s rally in recent months has also been supported by a tightening of global supplies, due largely to production cuts from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allied producers in the OPEC+ grouping, which includes Russia.

OPEC+ sources told Reuters the group’s producers are likely to ease curbs on supply after April given the recovery in prices.

(Additional reporting by Yuka Obayashi in Tokyo; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise, Steve Orlofsky, David Gregorio and Jonathan Oatis)

 

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