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Gamesa’s chairman pushed out by Iberdrola

Iberdrola has pushed out the executive chairman of wind power manufacturer Gamesa, after the Spanish electricity group lost patience with the company’s management.

Iberdrola, which controls 19.6 per cent of Gamesa’s shares, asked for Jorge Calvet to be replaced by Ignacio Martin, a former head of Cie Automotive, after the Spanish turbine maker’s shares fell by almost 90 per cent in the two and a half years he ran the company.

The Gamesa board, on which Iberdrola has two seats, voted unanimously to remove Mr Calvet.

Bilbao-based Gamesa has suffered alongside Danish rival Vestas as increased competition from Asian rivals pushed down prices, leading Spain’s largest wind power technology company into a €21m quarterly loss in March.

Iberdrola, Gamesa’s largest investor, wanted to replace Mr Calvet, who had a professional background in investment banking, with a manager with more industrial experience, people familiar with the situation said. Iberdrola declined to comment.

Mr Martin said that he would focus on returning Gamesa to profitability and regaining its competitiveness against Asian rivals.

Gamesa, which started life in 1976 as a Basque industrial equipment maker before specialising in renewable energy in the 1990s, still derives about 15 per cent of its sales from Iberdrola, although this has fallen from 35 per cent in 2009.

Investors have become increasingly dissatisfied with the management of Europe’s once lauded wind turbine groups because their share prices have fallen sharply since the start of the financial crisis.

Vestas lost its chief financial officer in February and the company has announced that it will cut 10 per cent of its workforce and shut down at least one factory to reduce its annual costs by €150m. The Danish group’s chairman and two other board members also stepped down from the company after it shocked investors with a string of profit warnings.

In March Mr Calvet told the Financial Times that the troubles at Vestas had damaged investor confidence in a sector already weakened by expectations of wide cuts in renewable energy subsidies.

Both Gamesa and Vestas have been subject to take over speculation as their share prices have continued to drop, with France’s Alstom being forced to deny earlier this year that it had been considering a bid for the Spanish group.

Mr Calvet said Gamesa had not itself been looking to make any acquisitions as there was excess manufacturing capacity in the turbine market.