Electrawinds crisis forestalled

Electrawinds, owner of partial stakes in a number of key Belgian offshore wind projects, pulled back from the brink of bankruptcy last night, although its future remains highly uncertain.

Electrawinds, the prolific Belgian renewables developer, and a member of the Otary offshore wind consortium, last week issued a statement saying that if a deal could not be reached to increase its near-term liquidity, the company would file for insolvency on 2 December.

Late last night, however, Electrawinds’ board said that it would hold off on pulling the plug while it evaluated several proposals on the table that might save the company, or parts of it.

The decision was based in part on "indications" that "interested parties" may buy some of the company's assets, easing its liquidity crisis.

Ostend-based Electrawinds, which is said to have debts of more than €360m ($488m), was recently offered a rescue package by a consortium of investors, including including Flemish government fund PMV.

However, some shareholders, including founder and chief executive Luc Desender, rejected the offer because it would reduce their stake in the company.

Given the “ongoing discussions among stakeholders … on the proposals received”, Electrawinds’ board decided not to file for insolvency yesterday, it says.

As an investor in the company, the Belgian government stands to lose a significant amount of money if Electrawinds goes bankrupt.

Founded 15 years ago, and partially listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, Electrawinds owns more than 250MW of renewables capacity, most of it onshore wind, and most of it based in Belgium, France and Italy.

In addition to its co-ownership with Dutch utility Eneco of the Norther offshore wind farm – next in line for construction in the Belgian North Sea after Belwind 2 and Northwind – Electrawinds also holds a 12.5% stake in the Otary consortium.

Otary, whose other owners include DEME and Aspiravi, owns the rights to three future Belgian offshore wind projects – Rentel, Seastar and Mermaid.