New Moventas owner plans big expansion

WORLDWIDE: The wind-turbine gearbox market could become more crowded following the EUR100 million agreement by venture capitalist and buyer of power and industrial companies Clyde Blowers to acquire Finnish gearbox manufacturer Moventas.

Moventas has historically been one of the major players in the gearbox sector. But in June, the company, which has counted Vestas among its customers and has a presence in both Finland and the US, put itself up for corporate restructuring citing overcapacity and cash-flow problems.

Clyde Blowers has bought into the company as the gearbox sector becomes increasingly competitive. As an indication of this, the combined manufacturing capacity of the three biggest manufacturers ZF, Winergy and Chinese High Speed Transmission Equipment Group of 33GW equals the total installed capacity for 2010.

Gavin McCallum, investment director at Clyde Blowers, said his company wants to build Moventas into a global presence within the wind industry. "The business has got strong research-and-development facilities and product pipeline and is well positioned to play a part in the multi-megawatt development of turbines," he said.

The international ambition means there will be a restructure and cutbacks to Moventas' operations in Finland. McCallum said it could be looking to expand in the US, where Moventas has an assembly plant in Portland, Oregon. "We are very committed to ensuring a business presence in each major region," he said. "Moventas is very European-centric and we're keen to have a more active presence in terms of sales and assembly in other major regions."

Expansion plans also include China, where Moventas has a base for its industrial division but nothing in terms of wind. McCallum said the company would be spending 2012 working towards establishing a gearbox assembly plant in the country.

Looking further ahead, he said there could also be some sort of partnership with industrial gearbox manufacturer, David Brown. Since Clyde Blowers acquired the UK-based company in 2008, it has been manoeuvring itself into the global wind industry and was involved in Clipper Windpower's aborted Britannia 10MW turbine project.

"In the short term we will run them as two businesses," McCallum said. "But we'll look to explore opportunities between the two. They're slightly different in terms of markets and geography, but there could be some opportunities that arise."

However, the fact that Moventas makes industrial gears means Clyde Blowers has something to fall back on should turbine orders drop off. Additionally, like many companies, Moventas will invest in the servicing side of the business. "It's quite a different dynamic from equipment, but businesses that cover more than one area are quite attractive for us," said McCallum.

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