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Green Energy Firm Juwi May Turn to Traditional Power Provider For Cash Infusion

Windfarm
Stormy times ahead for Juwi, Germany's second-biggest windpark company.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Germany is pushing for energy transition. Now, one of the country’s prominent project developers for wind and solar energy plants is struggling financially and seeking an investor to bail it out.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Several suitors have come calling including municipal energy supplier MVV Energie and utility company EnBW, but so far, no deal has been cut.
    • The crown jewel of Juwi’s holdings is its profitable subsidiary, Juwi IPP, which is generating a steady stream of revenues by supplying energy grids with renewable power.
    • Regardless of who invests in Juwi, its outspoken cofounder Matthias Willenbacher will lose a great deal of influence over the company he helped build.
  • Audio

    Audio

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Matthias Willenbacher used to swear a blue streak.

He swore when his green energy company Juwi was enjoying one record-setting year after another. He swore about public utility companies that viewed his wind farm efforts as competition. He swore about energy companies interested only in profits, using perfidious methods to fight the energy transition in Germany. . .his energy transition. . .even as his company grew to become the nation’s second-largest wind farm operator with €1 billion ($1.3 billion) in annual sales and about 1,800 employees.

Mr. Willenbacher has become considerably quieter over the past few months and for good reason. It may well be that one of the targets of his profanities will soon have a major hand in what happens at Juwi corporate headquarters in Wörrstadt in Rhineland-Palatinate.

Juwi is in crisis mode. Hobbled by debt and under increasing pressure from banks – 400 jobs were recently cut in an effort to save money — the company is in dire need of a capital infusion. Insiders in financial circles say the banks that gave Juwi a syndicated loan of more than €250 million ($328 million) want to see an investor come aboard the struggling firm by the end of 2014. But who? Another environmentally-friendly company? A financial angel? A public utilities company? Or, even one of the larger energy companies that were the target of his ire?

“We are having constructive talks,” Mr. Willenbacher told Handelsblatt, but he didn’t name names. That’s likely to change soon.

 

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