Babcock sells to major bank -- New owner for Nordex

A German bank is now the largest single shareholder in turbine manufacturer Nordex, with bases in Germany and Denmark. Engineering company Babcock Borsig sold its 29.8% stake to the Westdeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale (WestLB) last month. According to analyst sources, the price was Euro 140 million, equivalent to about EUR 9 per share -- the price at which Nordex was floated in April. Prior to the deal, shares were trading at about EUR 8.3 each.

"This is a good development for us," says Nordex's Ralf Peters. "Babcock did not have the liquidity to finance our expansion, so we no longer lay in their strategic focus." WestLB, in contrast, intends to support the Nordex expansion strategy, which anticipates an annual 25% increase in sales over the next five years, according to the bank's Michael Wilde.

Nordex will concentrate on expansion and acquisitions which build up its vertical integration, such as in blade construction. In fiscal year 2000/2001, Nordex sales are expected to rise by 30% to EUR 350 million, adds Peters. This year the company will install about 480 MW of wind capacity around the world.

The sale to WestLB came faster than expected. When Babcock-Borsig floated Nordex its intention was to hang on to its stake until at least the end of the year. Financial difficulties, however, mean that Babcock also sold major stakes in two other companies last month. The founders of Nordex, Danish brothers Jens and Carsten Pedersen, have retained their 7% stake in the company.

Nordex, meantime, will install the prototype of its N90 turbine in February, with series production to start in summer. The blades are to be built by both Nordex and LM Glasfiber, the Danish company that dominates the wind power blade business. The N90 is a development of the Nordex N80 2.5 MW machine.