Baker returns to the fold as green energy firm floats on AIM

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The Independent Online
JOHN BAKER, the former chairman of National Power, is returning to the stock market as the head of a green energy company which floated on AIM yesterday with a price tag of pounds 14.5m.

Renewable Energy Holdings raised pounds 10m through a placing of 20 million shares with institutional investors and issued a further 9 million shares to acquire an Australian wave energy company from Pacific Hydro, the leading renewable generator in the southern hemisphere.

The company plans to use half the proceeds from the share listing to invest in wind farms and small hydro-electric projects, which it will either develop from scratch or buy into. It is already looking at some potential deals in Ireland and elsewhere outside the UK. A further pounds 1.5m will be invested in the development of SPPL, the Australian wave energy business.

Mr Baker, who will be Renewable Energy's chairman, ran National Power for nearly nine years, first as chief executive and then chairman, before retiring in 1997. The company subsequently demerged into a UK generation and supply business, Innogy, which is now owned by RWE of Germany and International Power. Mr Baker was also deputy chairman of the insurer Royal & SunAlliance and the biotech company Celltech.

"I had vowed never to get involved again with a quoted company but this was such an interesting proposition that I decided to break my own rule," he said yesterday.

Renewable Energy's chief executive is Mike Proffitt, the former chief executive of the Manx Electricity Authority. Mr Proffitt has subscribed for 200,000 shares in the company. Pacific Hydro will own a 14.49 per cent stake.

The Government has set a target of generating 10 per cent of the UK's electricity from renewable sources by 2010. Although the vast bulk of this will be wind power, it has begun a push to promote wave and tidal energy, and has put pounds 50m of funding behind development of the technology. Mr Baker said that Renewable Energy would consider applying for funding from the UK to develop its wave energy capture device.