European activities not in ABB sale

ABB is retaining its wind energy financing and development activities despite deciding to sell off its Structured Finance business to GE Commercial Finance for $2.3 billion. ABB's wind activities are divided between the German unit of ABB Structured Finance, which operated its wind turbine leasing business, and ABB New Ventures, which developed and financed projects, neither of which are part of the sale.

Uncertainty about ailing ABB's future has put its wind business on ice since the beginning of the year, says Hans-Joachim Dörr of the German unit of ABB Structured Finance in Frankfurt. He regrets that "company restrictions meant we couldn't book any deals even though we have had a lot of interest in our leasing package from both Germany and abroad." ABB launched its scheme for leasing single turbines or small groups of turbines to small-time investors last year (Windpower Monthly, October 2001). About 70 enquiries have been received for specific projects in both France and Germany, says Dörr, while companies in Brazil, Japan, Ireland, Italy and Spain have all been in contact.

Before its sale to GE, ABB Structured Finance provided the type of small project financing, of EUR 5-10 million that banks are unwilling to participate in. It aimed to be an alternative to Germany's wind funds for very small projects.

At ABB New Ventures in Mannheim, where wind energy is the largest unit, wind station development and finance work continues in a number of countries. ABB New Ventures is a partner with Uniterre Resources in Vancouver in the 700 MW Canadian Nai Kun offshore project (Windpower Monthly, March 2002) and is negotiating with a number of German offshore wind station developers. Other projects include development of a 100 MW onshore wind station in north east Brazil, due to come on line at the end of 2003.

The fate of wind activities at ABB Energy Capital in the United States, part of the Structured Finance group, remains unknown (Windpower Monthly, September 2002). Statements about details of the deal were expected from GE once the sale was completed at the end of last month.

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