Clipper Windpower breezes to £250m stock market flotation

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The Independent Online

A US wind power company which boasts the film star Sir Anthony Hopkins among its shareholders is coming to the London market this summer in what is expected to be the biggest flotation on AIM so far this year.

A US wind power company which boasts the film star Sir Anthony Hopkins among its shareholders is coming to the London market this summer in what is expected to be the biggest flotation on AIM so far this year.

Clipper Windpower, chaired by the former Olympic cox and Tory sports minister Colin Moynihan, is planning a listing which is expected to value the company at about £250m. The float is likely to raise about £70m to enable Clipper to develop a revolutionary wind turbine which it claims is smaller, lighter, quieter and more energy efficient than other turbines on the market.

The listing will make Clipper's founder Jim Dehlsen a multimillionaire all over again. After the flotation, his family will hold a 35 to 40 per cent stake in the business worth about £94m. Mr Moynihan will own a 2 to 3 per cent stake valued at about £6m.

Mr Dehlsen made his first fortune five years ago when he sold his original wind power company, Zond, to Enron for $550m (£290m).

Like Zond, the California-based Clipper Windpower will both design and manufacture turbines but also invest in wind farms. In total, it is planning to develop 6,000 megawatts of wind power in the US, Canada and Mexico, including a 3,000 megawatt wind farm in South Dakota known as Rolling Thunder which will sport 1,200 turbines.

In the UK, it plans to target the offshore wind power market with a turbine specially developed for the marine market known as the Britannia. The UK government has set a target of generating 10 per cent of Britain's electricity from renewable sources by 2010. The vast majority of this green energy will come from wind farms.

In addition to the star of The Silence of the Lambs, Clipper Windpower's other high-profile investors include members of the Walton family, the founders of the Wal-Mart supermarket chain, the world's biggest retailer.

The biggest shareholder in Clipper Windpower is Energy Spectrum, a US private equity group which is expected to sell off about a third of its 30 per cent shareholding in the AIM float. Other institutional investors include Merrill Lynch.

The company has opted for a listing in London rather than the US because the wind power market is more developed in Europe and better understood by investors here. Offshore wind is forecast to account for two-thirds of the world wind power market, and two-thirds of all offshore wind farms are expected to be located around the shores of Europe.

Clipper Windpower claims its new 2.5 megawatt turbine, the C93, will be able to produce electricity for as little as 4.5 to 5.5 cents a kilowatt hour - cheaper than the current cost of gas-fired power in the US.

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