Seeking strategic reinforcement -- Lagerwey's long term issue

Dutch turbine producer Lagerwey The Windmaster has denied industry rumours that it is in financial difficulties following the suspension of talks with France's Jeumont. "It is no secret that we are looking to form a strategic alliance with a strong partner in order to be a player in the major league," says the Barneveld-based company's senior account manger, Remco Boersma. "We were in talks with Jeumont for some time and now those negotiations have been put on ice. But Jeumont was just one possibility and talks are continuing with other entities. We are trying to select the best partner we can find."

Boersma denies any similarity between the Dutch company's current quest for "reinforcement" and the cash flow problems which led it to request a temporary indulgence from its creditors in 1997. "This is very much a long-term strategic issue," says Boersma. "We know that if we are to progress in the current market we need a strong partner."

The strategic decision coincides with a clear re-orientation in Lagerwey's marketing strategy. Having established a strong presence in the Japanese and Indian markets, Lagerwey has recently made moves into Europe and North America. With the development of its 2 MW Zephyros unit, it is positioning itself as a serious offshore player, while it has also developed models to cope with low wind speeds and conditions of extreme cold.

Lagerwey's success in the Asian markets was built upon close collaboration with local producers and distributors -- particularly NKK in Japan -- as the company has no own-manufacturing capacity. With its recent re-orientation it is now looking to expand its European distribution network and earlier this year signed an agreement with Innovent, the company of French wind pioneer Gregario Verhaege, who will be the first of a number of Lagerwey distributors in France.

In North America, where Lagerwey is to build a 750 kW direct drive machine in Toronto and claims to have letters of intent and memorandums of understanding for many more projects across Canada and the US, a bigger sales and service infrastructure could also be necessary before long, says Boersma.