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ENERGY

Zara founder Amancio Ortega enters renewable energy sector

Spanish billionaire Amancio Ortega, founder of the biggest fast fashion group in the world, has entered the renewable energy sector with the purchase of a stake in a wind farm run by energy giant Repsol.

Amancio Ortega
Amancio Ortega is the founder of Inditex, which includes flagship store Zara, Zara Home, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Oysho, Pull&Bear, Stradivarius, Uterqüe and Lefties. Photo: Miguel Riopa

Ortega’s investment holding Pontegadea will pay €245 million euros ($281 million) for a 49 percent stake in the Delta wind farm in the northern province of Zaragoza, Repsol said in a statement Thursday.

Opened in March, the wind farm will produce 992 gigawatt hours (GWh) of 100 percent renewable energy a year, the equivalent to the average annual consumption of 300,000 households, the Spanish firm added.

Pontegadea chief executive Roberto Cibeira said the deal “strengthens the environmental commitment that accompanies all the activities in our portfolio”.

Ortega’s investment holding in 2019 bought a five percent stake in Spanish gas grid operator Enagas, and it owns a five percent stake in Spanish electricity grid operator Red Electrica.

This is Pontegadea’s first operation in the renewables sector.

Demand for renewable energy assets has soared in recent years, with investors spending billions of dollars to gain exposure to the sector as governments promote low-carbon energy and crack down on fossil fuels to fight global warming.

Ortega’s Pontegadea owns a 59.3 percent stake in Zara owner Inditex, as well as investments worth billions of euros in prime office and shopping districts.

These are largely debt-free purchases using dividend payouts from Inditex.

Pontegadea’s global real estate empire includes offices used by Facebook and Amazon in Seattle and large swathes of London’s Oxford Street.

Amancio Ortega is the founder of Inditex, the biggest fashion group in the world, which includes flagship store Zara, Zara Home, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Oysho, Pull&Bear, Stradivarius, Uterqüe and Lefties.

Now 85, he became a billionaire and Spain’s richest man at 65 when Inditex was listed in 2001. Funds from the flotation were used to set up Pontegadea, which is structured as a private limited company.

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MONEY

Italy expands €200 payment scheme and introduces public transport bonus

Italy's government will extend its proposed one-time €200 benefit to more people and introduce a €60 public transport payment, Italian media reported on Thursday.

Italy expands €200 payment scheme and introduces public transport bonus

Seasonal workers, domestic and cleaning staff, the self-employed, the unemployed and those on Italy’s ‘citizens’ income’ will be added to the categories of people in Italy eligible for a one-off €200 payment, ministers reportedly announced on Thursday evening.

The one-time bonus, announced earlier this week as part of a package of financial measures designed to offset the rising cost of living, was initially set to be for pensioners and workers on an income of less than €35,000 only.

However the government has now agreed to extend the payment to the additional groups following pressure from Italy’s labour, families, and regional affairs ministers and representatives of the Five Star Movement, according to news agency Ansa.

Pensioners and employees will reportedly receive the €200 benefit between June and July via a direct payment into their pension slip or pay packet.

For other groups, a special fund will be created at the Labour Ministry and the procedures for claiming and distributing payments detailed in an incoming decree, according to the Corriere della Sera news daily.

One new measure introduced at the cabinet meeting on Thursday is the introduction of a one-time €60 public transport bonus for students and workers earning below €35,000. The bonus is reportedly designed to encourage greater use of public transport and will take the form of an e-voucher that can be used when purchasing a bus, train or metro season pass.

Other provisions reportedly proposed in the energy and investment decree (decreto energia e investimenti), which is still being adjusted and amended, include extending energy bill discounts, cutting petrol excise duty and rolling on the deadline to claim Italy’s popular ‘superbonus 110’.

The €14 billion aid package, intended to lessen the economic impact of the war in Ukraine, will “fight the higher cost of living” and is “a temporary situation”, Prime Minister Mario Draghi has said.

The Local will report further details of the payment scheme once they become available following final approval of the decree.

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