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France

French flotation postponed -- Eole-RES

One of France's leading wind farm developers, Eole-RES, has postponed its flotation on the Paris Euronext market, which had been planned for the autumn (Windpower Monthly, July 2001). The company decided to go public when the French government announced it would be paying a fixed tariff for wind power in its bid to reach 5000-10,000 MW of installed capacity by 2010.

Flotation seemed like a profitable next step for a company which claimed to have 26% of the French wind market in existing or planned projects. "The wind power industry is characterised by highly intensive investments which have, however, reliable future cash flow returns," explained Eole-RES at the time. "The potential energy output, together with EDF's [the French utility] commitment to purchase all of the electricity produced, allow wind farm developers to clearly forecast future returns. In addition, the new tariff structure, which links the kilowatt-hour remuneration to the project's wind resource, allows the profitability of a vast range of sites."

But that was before the world recession took hold. "Given the recession felt in early September and amplified by the terrorist attacks in the US, we decided to postpone our flotation," says Jean-Marc Armitano of Eole-RES. There were no initial public offerings in France between mid-July and mid-November.

Eole-RES was created in 1999 as an equally shared collaboration between French research company Eole Technologie, active in the wind power sector since 1995, and Britain's Renewable Energy Systems (RES), a subsidiary of construction giant Robert McAlpine and an international wind plant developer with a sizeable project portfolio. Eole-RES recently completed the 21 MW Souleilla-Corbières wind plant of Bonus turbines, 12 kilometres northwest of Perpignan in Aude département and France's largest wind farm to date. The company has 1000 MW worth of projects in the pipeline, not only in France but also Switzerland and North Africa

It seems certain that Eole-RES will be floated in the near future, when global economic conditions stabilise and the French wind energy market picks up after its sluggish performance last year. "We are monitoring the market and will decide the date of our flotation in due course," says Jean-Marc Armitano.

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