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United Tech on wind unit: “We all make mistakes”

“We all make mistakes.”

That was United Technologies Corp Chief Financial Officer Greg Hayes’ assessment of Clipper Windpower. The diversified U.S. manufacturer, which bought the wind turbine maker in 2010, said on Thursday that it would try to sell it to raise money to fund its takeover of aerospace supplier Goodrich Corp.

“We bought into this business with a thought that there was going to be a renewable energy mandate in this country, and there has not been one,” Hayes told an investor meeting in New York. “The market, as everyone knows, is stagnating.”

Hartford, Connecticut-based United Tech bought a minority stake in Clipper in early 2010, intending to slowly explore its options in the wind turbine market.

But Clipper ran into a cash crunch later that year. United Tech wound up buying out the rest of the company that it did not already own, on the rationale that this was a safer move than lending money to a company that faced hefty competitors including General Electric Co, Siemens AG and Vestas.

United Tech concluded that it would have to make significant new capital investments in Clipper’s manufacturing operations to make the large-scale turbines in demand today and that it would rather invest that money in its core businesses, which make aerospace equipment and systems for large commercial buildings, Hayes said.