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April 19, 2009

Are the headwinds too strong for Suzlon?

Businessworld has an article featuring the recent technology and financing related challenges facing wind energy firm Suzlon Energy.
The US, which accounts for over 55 per cent of Suzlon’s market, has not placed any new orders since mid-2008. Instead, while global rivals Vestas and Gamesa grew by 48 and 64 per cent, respectively, in terms of order intake in calendar year 2008, Suzlon saw an erosion of 22 per cent.

...The US is key to its health, and Suzlon cannot wish away its problems in this geography. Its handling of the defective blades backlash shows a lack of readiness in handling situations such as this. “Quality of your equipment is your responsibility, which makes or mars your future,” says Kymal. “Every manufacturer goes through such issues,” concurs T. Shivaram, MD and CEO of wind energy equipment maker, Shriram EPC. “However, more tests should have been done for durability instead of rushing to the market with a product.” Suzlon’s orders now mostly come from smaller markets. For example, Inner Mongolia’s North Longyuan Wind Power Corporation wants 100 MW of wind turbine capacity, while Australia’s AGL Energy requires 113.4 MW by this calendar year.

...According to Sinha, Suzlon needs around E30 million (Rs 204 crore) in April 2009 and E175 million (Rs 1,225 crore) in May to buy out the balance stake in RePower from Martifer. When the deal is eventually completed, Suzlon will own close to 90 per cent in RePower, which will accelerate its access to technology. Founder Chairman and Managing Director Tulsi Tanti, who holds roughly 65 per cent stake in Suzlon, is negotiating with private equity players such as the Carlyle Group and TPG Capital, and even Indian banks, for funding of around $500 million (Rs 2,500 crore), possibly by diluting a little over 15-20 per cent of his stake in it. No one has taken this bait yet, though bankers say Tanti’s price expectations are too high.

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of information and networking services to the private equity and venture capital ecosystem in India. View free samples of Venture Intelligence newsletters and reports. Email the author at