Image: NESF.

COVID-19 is yet to have a “significant impact” on solar investor NextEnergy Solar Fund (NESF), the company has reassured its shareholders.

It is however preparing as the “unprecedented” situation continues to develop and as the effects on the global economy remain uncertain.

Already, economic slowdown and market uncertainty has begun to effect NESF, which saw its shares fall by approximately 20% as of the close of business on 19 March 2020.

In an effort to bolster the company, NESF announced yesterday (23 March) that it was cancelling scrip dividends.

The company had announced on 27 February that its scrip reference price was set at 117.00 pence per new Ordinary Share. This was offered as the alternative to the interim dividend that had been announced on 12 February.

However, since this price was set, there has been “extreme volatility” that has seen equity markets globally experiencing falls in value.

As such, the Ordinary Share price, which was set for Q4 2019, is likely to now be materially in excess of NESF’s actual share price.

NESF's board has therefore taken the decision that those who chose to receive additional shares instead of a cash dividend will now have the interim dividend paid in cash as well, on 6 April 2020.

Those who had chosen scrip dividend do have the option, should they so wish, to apply the cash dividend to acquire Ordinary Shares in the secondary market, said NESF.

The steps follow a strong period of growth for the company, which had a bumper 2019, with the completion of the UK’s largest subsidy free solar site as it energized its 50MWp Staughton solar farm.

The company has set its sights on 150MW of subsidy free solar by the end of 2020, through an investment cost of up to £88 million. NESF is also working to optimise its current portfolio of  705MW of solar.