Suzlon to double China capacity, may trim REpower stake

MUMBAI, INDIA - India's Suzlon Energy Ltd., the world's fourth-largest wind turbine maker, posted a 30 percent rise in March quarter profit and said it may sell part of its stake in Germany's REpower, sending its shares to a three-month high.

The company, which has orders worth 180 billion rupees ($4.2 billion), plans to double its capacity in China to 1,200 megawatts by 2009/10, Chairman Tulsi Tanti said, nominating it as a key market in coming years.

"China has a very ambitious target and we have a strong presence in that country," Tanti told reporters.

China's wind-power market has been booming on the back of record oil prices and a push from Beijing to increase use of renewable energy.

China's government recently doubled its target for installed wind capacity to 10 gigawatts, and has said turbines erected there must be 70 percent domestically produced.

Suzlon already makes wind turbines in the country.

"Though there is competition in China, Suzlon will be able to increase its market in the country as it expands capacity to meet the rising demand," said Krishna Kant Thakur, analyst with Edelweiss Securities.

Producers of renewable energy equipment such as Suzlon are also benefiting as climate change concerns prompt countries to tighten policies in an effort to reduce greenhouse emissions.

"Two things that have worked in our favour is the rise in oil and gas prices and global warming, and are supporting the growth of our industry," Tanti said.

REpower has been a major beneficiary, with its share up about 90 percent this year. Suzlon is the major shareholder in REpower, holding almost 34 percent and Tanti was considering selling some of the stake to take advantage of the gains.

"It is lucrative for us right now," he said.

Suzlon, which also has manufacturing units in India, the United States and Belgium, said consolidated net profit in its fiscal fourth quarter rose to 4.65 billion rupees from 3.59 billion rupees a year earlier on strong growth in the United States and at home.

Suzlon shares closed up 3.4 percent at 318.35 rupees, their highest close since Feb. 18, in a Mumbai market that fell 1.2 percent. During the March quarter, the company's shares fell 32 percent, compared to a 23 percent drop in the benchmark index amid concerns about lower margins and high interest costs due to two acquisitions.

The Global Wind Energy Council says wind could supply 12 percent of the world's electricity needs by 2020, compared with just 1 percent in 2007, a shift that would help curb climate change.

Suzlon competes with Denmark's Vestas, the world's leading wind turbine maker, Spain's Gamesa, U.S. company General Electric and Germany's Enercon.

Earlier in May, Vestas reported a lower-than-expected 70 percent rise in first-quarter operating profit.


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