Suzlon in talks to offload US factory

UNITED STATES: Suzlon is in talks with an unnamed buyer over plans to sell its blade manufacturing plant in Minnesota.

A source with knowledge of the situation said that discussions with a possible buyer are "under way and reasonably advanced", but that no deal has yet been struck.

In 2010 the Indian manufacturer moved to idle its manufacturing base in Pipestone, Minnesota, laying off 110 employees following a 70% drop-off in US orders in the first half of the year.

Suzlon had stated its intention to reopen the factory once the US market recovered, and retained 33 workers at the plant in order to re-tool the facility for larger blades.

Pipestone, which began operation in November 2006, made blades for the company's S88-2.1MW turbine and at one point employed more than 500 people.

Suzlon has continued to operate its distribution centre in Illinois, which is also used as a base to service the company's 1,363 turbines across North America.

A spokesperson for the firm said: "The Suzlon Group is evaluating the potential sale of its US blade manufacturing facility, located in Pipestone, Minnesota. It would be premature to comment on the specifics due to commercial confidentiality.

"However, it is important to note that the group remains committed to the North American market with our new S111 turbine and S97 wind turbine models, and a robust OMS business."

Suzlon has been shedding assets and employees as it looks to deal with its debt crisis. Last year, the manufacturer entered into corporate debt restructuring in an effort to bring its finances under control.

As a result, chairman Tulsi Tanti announced plans last year to reduce operational and manpower costs by 20% as part of the so-called project transformation.

The company has been selling off "non-critical assets". The latest of these was a 75% stake in its Chinese subsidiary. It was sold at a reduced price compared with a proposed deal back in 2012.

The group has shed 2,000 jobs over the last financial year and has confirmed that further headcount reductions are being planned.