Vancouver’s Chrysalix closes US$123 million clean-tech fund

Every week Techvibes republishes an article from Business in Vancouver. This article was originally published in issue #1072 – May 11 – 17, 2010.

It took more than two years, but clean-technology venture capital Chrysalix Energy has closed its latest fund, which stands at US$123 million.

The Vancouver firm courted a broad array of strategic and financial investors from around the world, including two major oil and gas giants: France’s Total S.A. and the Kuwait Petroleum Corp.

It recently signed on two Canadian financial entities, including a government-run entity, as investors, but could not disclose the investors by press time.

Other investors include:

  • Finnish energy firm Fortum Keilaniemi;
  • Dutch energy firm Essent;
  • Quebec-based fund Fondaction;
  • Swiss bank Credit Suisse Group; and
  • California’s Pacific Corporate Group LLC, which is a fund of fund managers best known for representing the United States’ largest pension fund, CalPERS.

The company had targeted raising between US$125 million and US$150 million for the fund, which is called Chrysalix Energy Limited Partnership III (CELP III).

“We’re a little bit below expectations, but given the economic meltdown, we’re perfectly happy with the amount,” Mike Walkinshaw, Chrysalix’s managing director and CFO, told BIV.

Chrysalix closed a US$70 million tranche for CELP III in July 2008 after beginning fundraising efforts the previous January.

Walkinshaw said that after that tranche, the economy fell apart, and Chrysalix put fundraising on hold for six months.

The company received an exemption from its limited partners to extend its fundraising period.

Similar to its second fund, which was US$111 million, CELP III will target the clean-technology sector.

Capital remains in that fund, but it’s allocated for follow-on investment in existing portfolio companies.

The company’s first fund was $37 million and targeted fuel cell and hydrogen technologies.

“Clean-tech investing has gone from bottom of the list – around 10th place as an investment sector in the North American markets – to recently, on a quarterly basis, No. 2 in terms of focus,” said Walkinshaw.

Roughly 75% of Chrysalix’ investments are in the U.S.; the rest are in Canada.

According to Bloomberg/New Energy Finance, Chrysalix is the third most active clean-energy venture capitalist in the world.

With its new fund, it has already invested into five companies, including Burnaby’s General Fusion Inc., which is developing a fusion energy reactor.

Walkinshaw said that, not including follow-on investment, the fund has enough capital to invest in seven to 10 other companies.