Break-up of Bard on horizon as search for backer fails

Consultant to take over as CEO

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The search for a new financial backer for German vertically-integrated offshore wind specialist, Bard Group, has failed, with the company admitting today that a break-up is possible.

Windpower Offshore understands that investor interest in parts of the group is strong, but not if the group must be purchased - or financially supported in some other manner - in its entirety.

"The process for selling Bard as a whole unit could not be completed as planned," admitted the company in a statement. "The reasons lie in the continuing difficult market environment, the technological challenges and the considerable complexity of the pioneer project Bard Offshore 1."

Bard's subsidiaries include a tripile foundation producer in Cuxhaven and a blade factory in Emden. Closure of the blade factory has already been postponed to end of September thanks to an order for spare blades for Bard 1, but further orders have yet to emerge.

For the time being Bard will concentrate on completing the 400MW Bard Offshore 1 station, currently planned for end of 2013 or beginning of 2014. Unikredit bank gave an assurance last September that it would continue to finance the project through to completion.

From 1 July Michael Baur will take over leadership of Bard Holding, leaving his post as managing director of consultancy AlixPartners. Baur has been advising Bard for the last 18 months and replaces Bernd Ranneberg, who has been restructuring the group since the beginning of 2011. "Ranneberg has secured the continued existence and development of Bard, and stabilised and professionalised the company, creating the basis for the process of finding a new investor," the company's statement reads.

In 2010, a planned collaboration between Bard and Spanish turbine manufacturer Gamesa failed to proceed. JPMorgan was chosen in September 2011 to find a new investor for Bard.

Commenting on the news has conceded that a break-up is likely, Jerome Guillet, managing director of Green Giraffe Energy Bankers, told Windpower Offshore that "people have constantly underestimated the risks that come with working with a lot of small pieces of equipment offshore. Those companies that have succeeded have had strong marine construction experience and strong project management skills".

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