Bard axes wind foundation arm

Germany’s Bard Group showed more signs of unravelling after it made the “inevitable” announcement that Cuxhaven Steel Construction (CSC) – its tripod-foundation subsidiary – will cease production from May.

Bard says it reached “consensus” with its works council last August, but managed to keep the plant afloat for a few months longer due to demand from the company’s troubled flagship Bard Offshore 1 project.

Some 25 CSC workers will be transferred to other Bard companies, while nearly 100 other jobs will be eliminated.

“Unfortunately, and despite intensive efforts, the search for an investor for CSC has remained unsuccessful,” Bard says.

The future of Bard – seemingly growing dimmer by the month – remains a source of intense speculation among many in the offshore wind business.

Bard had sought to become the world’s first vertically-integrated offshore wind player, engaged in everything from turbine and foundation production to project development and installation work.

Yet its ambitions have been shredded by massive delays and cost overruns at the 400MW Bard Offshore 1, and by the slower-than-expected development of the broader European offshore wind market.

Last year the company increased its loss provisions for the project to €710m ($955m).

Last spring it appeared the company was on the verge of finding a buyer, having previously been rebuffed by Spain’s Gamesa. At one point, China’s XEMC was also looking at the company.

Bard has wanted to sell itself as a whole, although for many outsiders only certain parts – its project portfolio, most notably – appear attractive.

Last summer the company at last acknowledged its willingness to divest itself in chunks, as it announced the abrupt departure of chief executive Bernd Ranneberg. Former chief executive Heiko Ross is now employed by rival German developer Windreich.

Then in November a collection of Germany utilities known as SüdWestStrom – long committed to buying a majority equity stake in Bard 1– walked away, saying that it wanted to invest its money more quickly than the project’s delays were allowing for.