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Denmark

Denmark

TAKEOVER BY DUTCH OF BIG DANISH WIND COMPANY

A second wind turbine manufacturer in Denmark has been bought by a foreign company. Danish wind firm Vestas has been bought by Dutch investment bank Mees Pierson. The 560 employees will not be affected by the take-over. In 1993 a Swiss bank was the first to buy a Danish company -- Nordtank A/S.

A second Danish wind turbine manufacturer has been taken over by an overseas investment bank. Mees Pierson of the Netherlands has bought 70% of the shares in Vestas Wind Systems. Mees Pierson is the fourth largest bank in Europe and part of the ABN-AMRO group.

Production of wind turbines from Vestas' factory at Lem in western Denmark, which currently employs 560, will not be affected by the takeover, says the company. Board chairman, Ejvind Sandal, says he regards the purchase as an international vote of confidence in the wind power industry by the financial world. The shares were bought from a series of minor shareholders and four major ones -- utility SEAS, FLS Energy, Unibank and Danish Business Investments. The bank paid DKK 163 million ($27 million) for the 70% stake. Vestas share capital is DKK 46.6 million and at the end of 1993 its capital and reserves were listed at DKK 177 million. Profit before tax in 1993 was DKK 31 million and turnover was DKK 679 million. The remaining 30% of shares are owned by a large employees' fund and by Baltica, an insurance firm. Neither have any plans to sell.

For some time it has been known that SEAS had to sell its 17% interest in Vestas because of reported losses from the investment. It received DKK 40 million from the sale -- DKK 8 million more than expected, according to board chairman Mogens Baltzer. He was unable to say whether this represents a loss for SEAS. Sandal says of the deal: "It is a clear signal to suppliers, banks and customers that we are moving into a period of stability." He adds "They have bought the company because they were satisfied with it and its leadership." Mees Pierson has been helped in its 18 month investigation of Vestas and the wind market by an American firm of consultants.

The first Danish wind firm bought up by an overseas investor was Nordtank A/S. The Union Bank of Switzerland bought 75% of Nordtank's share capital at the end of 1993.

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