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Netherlands

Netherlands

Buy out with American backing

Giant Dutch conglomerate Begemann has sold its controlling stake in wind turbine manufacturer WindMaster Nederland citing lack of short term returns as its primary reason for divestment. The shares have been bought by WindMaster management and a group of American investors.

Giant Dutch conglomerate, Begemann has sold its controlling stake in wind turbine manufacturer WindMaster Nederland citing lack of short term returns as its primary reason for divestment. The shares have been bought by WindMaster management and a group of American investors.

Explaining Begemann's decision to get out of wind energy, director Joop van den Niewenhuyzen points to the lack of short term returns generated by WindMaster Nederland. As a specialist in the delivery of large scale turnkey projects, WindMaster typically expects returns to be spread over a 10-15 year period. "We see no role for us in such long term investments. This is more appropriate for power companies," says van den Niewenhuyzen.

WindMaster's Albert Jochems echoes these sentiments, saying that the long term thinking inherent in wind farm development was not "Begemann's style." According to Jochems the management buy-out was "good news," providing the company with "more space to manoeuvre."

The change of ownership will allow WindMaster management a far greater say in selecting projects and developing the company, says Jochems.

He declines to divulge the identity of the American investors, saying only that their role is "passive" and that from now on development capital will be sought on a "project to project" basis.

Based in Flevoland, WindMaster Nederland has a 60 strong workforce and is active throughout the world. Recent projects include the repowering of the prestigious Lelystad wind farm with 18, 750 kW wind turbines; a 27 MW wind plant development at Dunkirk in France and wind plant of four, 750 kW units at Great Appleton in England. Under the last round of the UK's Non Fossil Fuel Obligation (NFFO-4) the company was awarded what Jochems terms "the first actual contract for a real offshore wind farm." This project, a 30 MW development on the Gunfleet Sands off the north Essex coast near Clacton, England, is due for completion sometime in the next three years.

Modest profit

According to Van den Niewenhuyzen, WindMaster is expecting turnover of some NLG 35 million this financial year, while last year the company "booked a modest profit of a couple of hundred thousand guilders on a slightly lower turnover."

Despite Begemann's decision to get out of wind, Van den Niewenhuyzen is optimistic about WindMaster's long term prospects. The bankruptcy of sister company HMZ WindMaster Belgium in 1996 was a result of bad contracts and not of faulty market analysis he claims. With Dutch government support for the development of wind energy, WindMaster Nederland's future looks bright, says van den Niewenhuyzen.

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