Vestas is seeking buyers for a number of its plants, including possibly its Pueblo tower factory, as part of a move to consolidate around its higher-tech operations, the Dow Jones news service reported Tuesday.
The talk of a possible sale of the Pueblo plant comes about two months after Vestas announced a move to begin building tower sections for unidentified outside wind turbine suppliers. Vestas this week declined to confirm whether talks already were under way regarding the Pueblo plant, the news service reported.
Last year, Danish-based Vestas, facing a major slowdown in U.S. and global orders, announced plans to revamp its business model and slash costs. The company also raised the possibility of closing or selling some factories but offered no specifics.
The Dow Jones news service, affiliated with the Wall Street Journal, reported that Vestas Chief Operating Officer Jean-Marc Lechene said in an interview that the company would like to outsource the manufacturing of less-advanced components such as wind towers in order to focus more on lucrative advanced wind turbine technology, including blades and control systems, manufacturing of turbines and sale and service of wind power plants.
In the U.S., the company’s blade and nacelle (aircraft engine enclosures) plants are located in Northern Colorado.
“We want to focus on areas where we create value and realize that, in towers, Vestas does not add a lot,” Lechene said. Lechene joined Vestas in July 2012 after the company underwent a management and boardroom shake-up amid pressure from shareholders, the news service said.
Any possible new owners of Pueblo and other factory sites to be sold would become strategic partners since Vestas would use them as suppliers and involve them in the development of products as well, Lechene said.
Pueblo Economic Development Corp. CEO Jack Rink said Tuesday he first learned of Vestas’ more detailed plans from the Wall Street Journal article. Vestas has not contacted the agency to discuss any of the plans.
Vestas opened the estimated $240 million tower plant in 2010.
As wind turbine orders slowed sharply, Vestas in January announced plans to also make towers for non-Vestas wind turbines. The outside order is for two years and is expected to utilize up to 25 percent of the factory’s maximum capacity of 1,090 towers per year.
Vestas has declined to comment on the current employment levels at the tower plant.
The plant employed about 450 at its peak, but an estimated 90 workers were laid off last year and the remaining workers saw their hours temporarily reduced. The outside order announced in January will result in the hiring of about 100 workers by the end of this month, the company said.
Vestas U.S. spokesman Andrew Longeteig said Tuesday the company will not discuss any details about possible factory sales until any agreements are in place.
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