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British veteran sells American business -- RES changes tack

Wind development group Renewable Energy Systems has put its American business up for sale to raise money to finance growth in its other markets. RES Americas Inc is the largest company within the RES group, with a portfolio of projects bigger in capacity than the rest of the group put together. It also has an ownership stake in a single wind farm in Texas, the 60 MW Whirlwind Energy Center.

The RES sale follows a spate of wind asset divestments since the global credit crunch took hold, including Babcock & Brown's decision to put much of its European portfolio on the block. But RES Group managing director Ian Mays insists the sale bears no similarities to other sell-offs. He points out that both RES Americas and the rest of the RES group are growing strongly. "To facilitate the growth of both of these businesses we are selling the RES Americas business and the proceeds will be re-invested in the rest of the RES group," he says. "It's a different situation to others who have gone before us."

RES has engaged the services of a company to facilitate the sale and the bidding process is under way, he says. He expects the sale to be concluded in the summer.

Since RES moved into the North American market in 1997, it has been involved in either building or developing 1843 MW of operational wind farms, which is 12% of the installed wind capacity in the US. These include some of the largest projects in the country, such as the 278 MW King Mountain wind farm in Texas. It is involved with a further 1525 MW under construction. RES Americas now employs 165 staff working in five regional offices in the US and Canada, as well as at its corporate headquarters, recently moved from Texas to Denver, Colorado. It has a project portfolio of over 10,000 MW.

At the time of the Whirlwind investment a year ago, which marked a first step into wind plant ownership in America, the company's Meredith Ingrams said RES was intending to make ownership a bigger part of its US plan.

The RES group is a subsidiary of Britain's Sir Robert McAlpine group of engineering and construction companies, a privately owned family firm. Outside North America, RES's main areas of activity are the UK and Ireland, France, Scandinavia, Australia and New Zealand.

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