Chinese suitor for German supplier -- Goldwind plans move into Europe

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The prospect of a Chinese-owned wind turbine manufacturer in Germany is now intriguingly close. Hot on the heels of its successful listing on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, China's leading wind turbine supplier, Goldwind, is planning to take over control of Germany's Vensys, the brains behind a megawatt-class, direct-drive turbine design for which Goldwind has had a manufacturing licence since 2004. The Chinese firm says it is hoping to secure a 70% stake in Vensys for EUR 41.42 million, a sum Vensys declines to confirm at this stage.

The negotiations include the founding of a joint venture between Goldwind and Vensys for a turbine production facility in Saarbrücken, Germany. If the deal goes ahead, the facility will produce 1.5 MW and 2.5 MW machines for the European market. The Vensys machines are otherwise made under licence in the Czech Republic by Vensys-CKD and in Andalucia, Spain, by Eozen, a start-up company which has put them into series production (Windpower Monthly, April 2007).

These licence arrangements will be unaffected by the change of ownership, says Vensys. Both European licensees will be consulted before any decisions on the Saarbrücken venture are made. Vensys says the deal will not be completed until mid-2008 at the earliest.

The initiative for the deal came from Goldwind, which commissioned six prototypes of the 1.5 MW machine at the Dabancheng wind station in Urumqi in April last year, and brought 33 of the same machine on line at the Peking-Guanting wind station in October.

Under the tentative arrangements with Goldwind, two of Vensys' three shareholder groups will sell some of their shares to the Chinese company. The two are Hugo Denker, who holds 70% of Vensys, and Saarwind, a founding group of company employees, which holds 25%. Denker was a stakeholder in Germany's Repower before he sold his shares to Portuguese construction company Martifer back in 2005. The third shareholder group consists of a consortium of small investors. It will retain its five per cent stake.

If the Goldwin deal proceeds, production of the Vensys turbines could start by the end of the year, with initial output slated at around 50 machines in 2009, mostly of the 1.5 MW model. The final design of the 2.5 MW machine is still being worked on by Vensys, with a prototype expected to be installed in 2008. Series production is expected to begin at the end of 2009 or early in 2010. Goldwind has already stated its intention to secure a licence for the 2.5 MW machine.

Vensys was founded Saarbrücken in 2000 to make commercial use of know-how that had been built up in the wind energy research department at the Saarbrücken institute for technology and economy since 1990.

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