Soaking up Middle East oil money -- Abu Dhabi invests in Winwind

Finnish turbine manufacturer Winwind is to expand "its Indian operations giving the company a better global performance" and in the longer term "plans to expand elements of the operation into Abu Dhabi." The news comes with its second major ownership restructuring in just over two years. Masdar, a multi-billion dollar renewable energy and clean technology subsidiary owned by Abu Dhabi's Future Energy Company, has acquired a 33% stake in the company for EUR 120 million. Abu Dhabi, a major oil producer and capital of the United Arab Emirates, also recently invested in offshore wind development in Britain (page 55).

The deal allows Masdar to "move rapidly into the worldwide wind market enabling it to diversify its renewable energy asset portfolio," says Masdar. "We are very keen to see Winwind expand in India and the Middle East," adds Ziad Tassabehji, the company's director of innovation and investments. "Masdar's investment is expected to quadruple the volume of production in Finland, while also establishing a manufacturing plant in India to serve the Asian market. In the long run there may also be a factory in Abu Dhabi. Winwind's product is well placed to quickly take a share of the growing market for wind turbines in Egypt, Syria and Abu Dhabi," he says.

Masdar will hold three seats on the Winwind board. Avis Ventures Limited, the Mauritius subsidiary of India's Sterling Infotech Group, retains the 40% majority stake in Winwind it acquired in 2006 for just EUR 20 million (Windpower Monthly, November 2006). "This deal will propel the company into significantly larger markets," says Sterling's Vaidyanathan Srinivasan. "The [Masdar] investment heralds a breakthrough in Winwind's utility class technology," adds Winwind's chairman Lassi Noponen. "Masdar's commitment and investment provides us with a springboard for future success."

Masdar's primary interest in Winwind, it says, is to increase the Finnish company's range of turbines. It currently makes a 1 MW machine and a 3 MW unit. The turbine company also wants to boost its ability to secure large scale contracts in the Nordic market as well as in the rest of Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the United States, says Masdar's CEO, Sultan Al Jaber. "We looked for a European turbine manufacturer that had real value in terms of both its growth potential and strong technology capability." Winwind's turnover in 2007 was EUR 60 million. It has delivered just 50 turbines to date, nearly all of them in Finland and Sweden, and has assembly facilities in Finland and India.

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