Global fund picks up more assets

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As Spain's Gamesa ramps up its wind turbine manufacturing capabilities in Pennsylvania, its project development division is already selling off the company's two flagship wind farms in the state, which have a combined capacity of 150 MW, plus an older 50 MW wind farm in Illinois. The prospective buyer is Babcock & Brown (B&B), a global investment firm. For the past three years B&B has focused on building a sizable global wind power portfolio and ranks among the leading owners of wind energy assets.

It is now in the process of buying both the completed 80 MW phase of the Allegheny Ridge plant in Cambria and Blair counties, Pennsylvania, and a second 70 MW phase, plus a third undeveloped phase, believed to be 30 MW. Gamesa's new wind turbine blade facility is nearing completion in Cambria, while three manufacturing centres for towers, nacelles and more blades are under construction in Bucks County, just north of Philadelphia where Gamesa's US business is headquartered.

In a second part to the deal, B&B is buying the 50.4 MW Mendota wind plant in Lee County, Illinois. This project was developed by Minneapolis-based Navitas Energy and consists of 63 Gamesa G53 800 kW turbines and came online in 2003. Gamesa bought 90% of Navitas in 2002 to gain a foothold in the US market.

The total cost of the deal between the two companies is valued at $345 million, according Gamesa documents in Spain. B&B declines to confirm the cost. In the US wind market, B&B remains a distant third in the ownership stakes behind FPL and PPM. The 200 MW purchase from Gamesa will bring B&B's US wind farm holdings to a little over 600 MW. Further purchases in the US are being negotiated and are expected to close shortly. B&B declines to be specific. The company is "not necessarily big on publicity," says a B&B representative. Neither it nor Gamesa are willing to comment on the deal, though a B&B representative confirms the company "does have an agreement to acquire three of Gamesa's wind farms" in Pennsylvania and Illinois.

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