Developer Western Wind wants to sell itself to US major

Vancouver-based developer Western Wind Energy is putting itself up for sale – blaming “self-serving” stock market traders that it claims have inflicted “suffering” on its shareholders.

The Canada-based company operates 165MW of wind and solar capacity in the US states of California and Arizona.

It is also developing the 30MW Yabucoa PV project in Puerto Rico, for which it has a 20-year power purchase deal.

Western Wind is targeting large US energy companies and utilities as potential purchasers

The company plans to close financing and start construction at Yabucoa before a sale is completed, which Western Wind says will add $160m to its balance sheet, bringing it to about $560m.

Yabucoa is one of three “milestones” named by Western Wind to be achieved before completion of a sale.

It also hopes to complete negotiations with the US Treasury over a cash grant for its 120MW Windstar plant in California, which recently received $13.2m less than requested under the government’s 1603 scheme.

Nailing a $25m loan facility is cited as the third major marker for a successful sale.

Western Wind told investors the sales process will take several months to complete, during which time it will continue to run the business with a view to getting maximum return for shareholders.

The sale will be managed by “industry-leading” mergers and acquisition advisers, who will provide the level of scrutiny needed for shareholder and regulator approval, says the company.

Apart from Windstar, its other operating assets are the 30MW Mesa wind plant near Palm Springs and a 10.5MW integrated solar and wind facility in Arizona.

In mid-May the company said it had reached an agreement to purchase a 4GW US project development pipeline from a unit of Champlin Windpower and Good Energies for $20m in stock

Western Wind’s shares closed at C$1.19 on Friday, against a 52-week high of C$2.27.

Jeff Ciachurski, chief executive, says: "After starting Western Wind with a few hundred thousand dollars back in 2000, we will in essence be selling a half billion dollar energy company.”

Ciachurski claims the company’s long-standing shareholder base had “suffered at the hands of a few self serving analysts and their unregulated clients.

“The sale process, by including the Yabucoa financial close, and a few remaining development items will allow the long standing Western Wind shareholders to achieve their reward,” he says.

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