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Senvion hires chief restructuring officer to battle crisis

Turnaround expert Neil Robson is hired to secure financing for the loss-making wind OEM

Senvion has appointed Neil Robson as chief restructuring officer (CRO) to secure financing to underpin a transformation programme for the embattled Germany-based wind OEM.

Investors reacted sourly on the announcement. Senvion shares on the Frankfurt stock exchange plunged 5.17% to €1.1 in early morning trading, and the company has shed 88% in the past year.

News of Robson's appointment came as an internal Q&A from Senvion chief executive Yves Rannou revealed the company is preparing to narrow both its product range and market focus.

"We are very glad to have Neil join the management board. He brings a lot of experience in successfully managing financial restructuring of companies in different industries, making him a great asset for Senvion and a perfect addition to the management team,” Rannou said.

“We have a clear roadmap to stabilise and strengthen the company in the medium-term, and Neil, in the position of CRO, will drive Senvion's ongoing financing discussions with key stakeholders."

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The appointment of a CRO comes after the troubled manufacturer last month had to delay the publication of its 2018 financial results, while it is in talks with lenders. If the company has posted a net loss again last year, it would have been its fourth consecutive year in the red.

Senvion's profits have been squeezed as the wind turbine sector has become ever more competitive as the result of tenders in most markets that have pushed electricity prices down, and subsequently put turbine prices under pressure.

Larger wind turbine manufacturers have also felt the heat, but through mergers and acquisitions (ie. Siemens Gamesa) have gained size and scope in order to be able to win orders also at very low prices in auctions, while surviving due to their increased market presence.

Siemens board member Michael Sen in a recent newspaper interview has said only the 'big and strong' wind OEMs will survive what he has called a 'Darwinian' competition.

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Robson is a partner in restructuring advisory firm THM Partner LLP and has nearly 30 years of experience in operational and financial restructuring, including 15 years in management board or executive positions as CRO or CFO, Senvion said.

Prior to his role at Senvion, Robson worked as CRO with Scholz Holding and Apcoa Parking in Germany and also with BMI Healthcare as a non-executive director and advisor in the UK. He is a chartered accountant and a member of the Institute for Turnaround. He previously worked for EY and Andersen.

Senvion’s majority owner, the US investor Centerbridge, in a rare public statement in February backed the recently-installed CEO Rannou, as he sketched out a programme just days after the company downgraded its financial guidance for 2018.

The unusual appointment of a CRO will help the company's CEO and CFO to concentrate on their executive functions, while the CRO can talk to financiers and lenders on a daily basis.

As a sign of its ongoing crisis, Senvion has burned through CEOs and CFOs in recent years, with acting CEO and CFO Manav Sharma resigning in January and leaving the company, after former CEO Jürgen Geissinger had resigned in May 2018.

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