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Wind Business: French equity on spending spree

Hanalei Finance, a French private equity investment company focusing on "eco-responsible" companies, has been on a spending spree, buying shares in two companies specialising in turbine maintenance to add to its existing French and American wind power interests.

First up was a 42% share in French operation and maintenance specialist Windtechnics, which services both wind plant owners and turbine manufacturers and is developing offshore expertise. As well as its home market, Windtechnics is active in Belgium, Luxembourg and Romania and last year diversified into the US and Canadian markets.

A few weeks after the Windtechnics deal, Hanalei bought 40% of the capital and voting rights of Wind Direct Services, a specialist in maximising the availability and output of wind turbines in France for their owners. Hanalei also owns a 66% stake in Nature Energies, a France-based independent power producer in the renewable sector, and in December bought a 15% stake in its American subsidiary.

In the US, Nature Energies develops wind projects where land and grid connection rights have already been secured. It has around 700 MW under development, mostly in the Midwest, of which it hopes to complete around 400 MW by 2012.

"We are especially confident of the growth potential of renewables energies in North America, largely because of the low level of development in certain states and also because of the political willingness displayed by the new administration," says Hanalei's Olivier Duguet. Before setting up Hanalei, Duguet founded the French wind developer and operator Francaise d'Eoliennes, which he sold to Italian energy group Sorgenia in 2007.

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