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VVPR: VivoPower International PLC and its Unique Business Model


The alphaDIRECT Insight

VivoPower’s business model is uniquely designed to navigate the challenges of the dynamic and evolving solar industry. We believe there are two major factors helping to drive the company’s growth opportunity. First is the focus on unique assets in more diverse markets that requires local relationships as well as a knowledge base in which to identify and develop them. Second is the concentration of investment funds among fewer large institutions which do not have the time nor focus to develop these types of assets without the assistance of a company like VivoPower. We believe that these two factors give the company a significant growth runway while presenting a unique investment opportunity. In this report, we focus on the company’s operating model and look at the various components of the company’s strategy.

Shawn Severson: Philip, thank you for taking the time to speak with us today. Let’s begin by talking about your background and what brought you to VivoPower.

Philip Comberg: Yes, thank you, Shawn. Having actually spent the first half of my professional career primarily in investment banking and principal investing I have had an extensive background in the international solar market in the past decade. It allowed me to get a deep insight of how to navigate the challenges of our dynamic and rapidly evolving industry. I have seen both the positive examples of what works and the mistakes that have been made in the industry and we have designed VivoPower’s business strategy accordingly to make it a success.

My first experience in the solar industry was as a board member of NASDAQ listed Chinese solar manufacturing company Solarfun which was taken over by Hanwha and following the acquisition of QCells ultimately became Hanwha QCells, one of the largest panel manufacturers in the world. I have retained deep relationships within the Chinese solar industry since then.

In 2011, I was asked to become the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Germany’s largest solar company at the time, Conergy, which had, unfortunately, gone into distress and had been taken over by its creditors, mainly US hedge funds. I lead the company through a painful, deep restructuring and successfully sold it to two US financial investors. This experience crystalized for me, in a very detailed and granular way, the opportunities and some of the challenges that the industry faces on a global basis.

Following the sale, I stayed on as a non-executive board member and was then asked by one of the two investors, Magnetar Capital, to help them build a solar-generating portfolio in the United Kingdom. Over a 15-month period we assembled over 300 megawatts of shovel ready solar projects which we built and which now forms one of the largest portfolios of operational solar power assets in the United Kingdom. During this period, I also became non-executive Chairman of Solarcentury, a leading London based developer and EPC company,

So, I bring to Vivo over a decade of experience in a senior management role in both public and private companies with experience in the entire value chain of the industry, from manufacturing to development, acquisitions, financing and operations. It is with that experience, that we have designed VivoPower to capitalize on a very exciting and high-growth opportunity in the new solar energy world.