United States

United States

UTC puts Clipper up for sale

UNITED STATES: United Technologies Corp. (UTC) has announced it aims to sell Clipper Windpower, citing market conditions and uncertainties over wind subsidies among the reasons.

Clipper Windpower's Liberty turbine
Clipper Windpower's Liberty turbine
Connecticut-based UTC had only sealed its $382 million purchase of Clipper in December 2010.

"The decision reflects the desire to focus on our core competencies," said a spokesman for Pratt & Whitney Power Systems, the UTC division in charge of the wind turbine manufacturer.

He said UTC is exiting wind because of the flagging the global wind market and an subsequent oversupply of turbines, uncertainty over the continuation of wind subsidies in the US and increasing competition from China.

UTC does not expect to re-enter the wind sector, he said.

UTC, an industrial conglomerate, hopes the sale of Clipper and of its rocket engine business will raise about $3 billion for the $16.5 billion purchase of aerospace manufacturer Goodrich Corp. and Rolls-Royce's share of the International Aero Engines joint venture.

Amy Grace, a wind analyst with Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said she expected Clipper's purchase price to be "highly discounted" because of market conditions. "I expect [UTC] will lose money," she added.

"We are headed into a year in which wind is expected to crash... I am not surprised" by UTC's move, she said.

Clipper, based in California, had faced headwinds before and after its purchase by UTC. UTC had halted Clipper's high-profile Britannia project, for 10-MW offshore turbines, in mid-2011. A prototype of the UK-built turbine, targeted at Britain's Round Three offshore leasing, was to be ready this year.

Clipper's plans for a Britannia blade factory in the UK had been launched with much fanfare by company founder Jim Dehlsen—a doyen of the US wind industry --and then- British prime minister Gordon Brown.

Then in August 2011, Clipper announced 75 redundancies in the US.

The company's flagship Liberty platform had previously been plagued with problems, including faulty gearboxes, bad blades, red numbers and unsteady stock.

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