It's difficult to qualify the investors' background
Alternative Energy Holdings Inc., a Virginia firm (PK:AEHI) that claims to be engaged in planning to build a nuclear power plant in southwestern Idaho, this week said it had $150 million in a commitment letter from Silverleaf Capital Partners, LLC, Salt Lake, Utah.
The Idaho Statesman interviewed Shane Baldwin, the director of the firm, who told the newspaper if the due diligence goes well the company could provide the funding by the end of this month. Baldwin said the firm launched in December 2006 and focuses primarily on real estate development and alternative energy. He told the newspaper this is the first investment they’ve made in a nuclear power plant. “We think the next wave of investment dollars will be going toward new nuclear plants,” Baldwin said.
Many important facts are still not visible
An attempt to qualify the firm's experience in the investment banking world with energy projects turned up more questions than answers. Mr. Baldwin has a profile on LinkedIn, which lists no prior employment in the investment banking industry nor for that matter does it list any prior employment. It is unusual and perplexing to read that someone in investment banking has declined to list prior placements and levels of funding in a public profile especially on LinkedIn which is a business relationship building web service with over 12 million members. Maybe he just never got around to finishing it? The Silverleaf website is also a minimalist effort and most of its pages are blank.
His partners also have business backgrounds, but again their prior work isn't with energy projects nor investment banking. Cory Moore lists on his LinkedIn profile work as a construction manager for the past 12 years. Cody Rasmussen has posted information on line that he has at least four years of experience as a real estate agent in the Layton and Ogden, Utah area.
In short, there is no way to make a judgment whether Silverleaf or its principals have any experience with a deal of this size, e.g., $150 million, or with energy projects of any kind. There is no way to judge from online information whether the firm has the capability to manage the effort or subsequent rounds of fund raising which would be needed for a multi-billion dollar nuclear power plant. Perhaps the information to qualify their ability to deliver is elsewhere?
That said if I were looking at qualifying a $150 million investment for a nuclear power plant, I'd want boatloads of online information about the firm and its principals. Since there is very little, skepticism is the only perspective that makes any sense at least for now.
There was no mention in this week's announcement of AEHI's prior investment banking partner, Cobblestone Financial Group, from upstate New York which last June announced it would raise $3.5 billion for the nuclear power plant. Like Silverleaf, Cobblestone has a background in real estate such as shopping centers, self-storage units, and convenience stores. It has no experience with the energy industry either fossil or nuclear, nor with placement of investments in the energy field.
CFO leads stock buy back effort
In other news about AEHI the firm announced in September that it had hired a CPA as its CFO. The firm's press release said Rick Bucci has practiced accounting and tax for 19 years; his diverse background includes hotels, construction, real estate development and banking. It appears Mr. Bucci is crossing over to the nuclear energy industry since there is nothing in his reported background to indicate prior experience in this field.
And finally it is noteworthy that AEHI announced in October, a month after hiring Mr. Bucci, that AEHI said in a press release that the company's Board of Directors approved a plan to repurchase up to 1 million shares of its outstanding common stock in order to take advantage of the undervalued market price. At the December 6th close the stock was trading at $0.23/share down from a 52-week high of $0.96/share last summer.
Neither AEHI nor Sivlerleaf have ever updated the initial press reports with information on their progress to acquire $150 million in startup funds. This week AEHI announced it was suspending the buyback of its stock despite the fact that it was "undervalued." At the end of trading today AEHI's stock (PK:AEHI) closed at $0.20/share on volume of 13,500 shares down from a high of $0.96/share last August.