World News: companies

Aggreko halts slide

The decision by UK power hire company Aggreko to reduce its exposure to the difficult North American market has been well received by a stock market which has been marking down the shares in the company over the last year.

Half year profits fell from à‚£26.6m to à‚£25.6m ($41.5m to $40.0m) with a 15 per cent fall in profitability forecast by the company for the full year. Chief Executive, Philip Harrower, said, “There is no material improvement but no sign of going further backwards.”

Aggreko’s international business recovered in the first half, led by activity in the Middle East and Australia. Europe is expected to deliver “double-diget profit growth between now and the end of the year,” said Harrower. Analysts still regard the company as vulnerable to deterioration in the US economy.

Dormann replaces Centerman at ABB

Debt-laden Swiss-Swedish engineering group ABB has replaced its president and CEO Jàƒ¶rgen Centerman with current chairman Jàƒ¼rgen Dormann. Referring to his predecessor’s resignation, Dormann said Centerman had decided to go after he “found out that fresh blood would be in the interest of ABB”.

Dormann said that under his leadership, ABB would continue to concentrate on its core activities in the fields of power and automation. Dormann has been a director of ABB since 1998 and chairman since November last year.

ABB cut its debt to under $3bn by selling its Structured Finance business to GE Commercial Finance for $2.3bn. The cash will enable bank obligations to be met although analysts believe the company still has some way to go to restore operating performance.

Emerson’s Westinghouse adopts new name

Emerson Process Management has announced that its Westinghouse Process Control business will in future be known as Emerson Process Management Power & Water Solutions.

Although the Westinghouse name has long been associated with pioneering developments in the area of process control, Emerson has decided that a closer identification with the range of Emerson offerings was desirable.

Emerson, whose Process Management Power & Water Solutions division was originally part of Westinghouse Electric Corporation, purchased Westinghouse Process Control from CBS in 1998.

The company said that all product offerings will remain available and will be supported.

CAP buys into emissions systems

Two US companies engaged in emissions reduction technology have joined forces with the acquisition of HIS Emissions Reduction Systems (HIS) by Clean Air Partners (CAP).

Since 1991, CAP has been developing technologies to allow diesel engines to operate with the low emission benefits of natural gas while retaining the power, efficiency, longevity and cost-effectiveness of compression ignition engines. HIS, which supplies its integrated catalytic converter products to industries around the world, will become a division of CAP.

As well as expanding into a wider range of diesel emission technologies and applications, CAP is also developing products for the distributed generation market.

Wind venture plans 1500 MW

Pennsylvania wind developer US WindForce has established a joint venture with Padoma Wind Power of La Jolla, CA to develop, finance, construct and sell as many as 1500 MW of wind energy projects in the mid-Atlantic region of the US.

The companies have identified Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Virginia as suitable due to excellent wind resources, growing demand, strong transmission system and increasing environmental awareness.

In a statement US WindForce said the companies expect to have as many as 340 MW in operation by the end of 2003.

European market keeps Nordex on track

Growth in the European market, lead by German sales, has kept wind turbine manufacturer Nordex on track to meet its financial forecast for operative growth of nearly 30 per cent for the fiscal year.

In the first nine months Nordex posted a 33 per cent increase in turnover to around €300m ($293.6m) with Germany accounting for 64 per cent of revenue. In spite of higher taxes, net income for the period rose by 41 per cent to €9.0m

Nordex said that it is increasing supplying the high megawatt segment with its N80/2500 kW turbine range now accounting for 35 per cent of new order intake. Nordex noted a growing market for this model in France and Ireland. Nordex has also installed the first N90, a model with rotor diameter of 90 m designed for locations with weaker wind conditions.

News digest

Aquila withdraws: US energy trader Aquila is to close its office in Germany at the end of October with the loss of ten jobs. No buyer has been found for the unit which last year traded 200 TWh of power. Aquila plans to withdraw from European markets and is also selling UK assets in natural gas storage and electricity distribution.

GE Wind milestone: GE Wind Energy has installed the 1000th of the 1.5 MW wind turbines it manufactures in Germany, Spain and the US. Used in both on and offshore locations, the 1.5 MW turbine was the first megawatt-size turbine to become commercially available with the first unit installed in Emden, Germany in April 1996.

Kohler/Bowman agreement: Wisconsin-based Kohler Generators has announced a supply and market development agreement with UK microturbine system specialists Bowman Power Systems. Kohler is to market the full range of Bowman combined heat and power systems in the US under the Kohler brand name.

Kvaerner weaker: Weaknesses in its engineering and construction divisions led to Norway’s Kvaerner group reporting lower than expected profits in the three months to June. Sales and order backlogs in the divisions continued to decline reflecting weak general market conditions.

Powerspan/OPG: Ontario Power Generation has joined the ECO development Partner Programme, which supports the development and deployment of Powerspan’s multi-pollutant control technology for coal fired power plants called ECO or Electro-Catalytic Oxidation.

Reliant splits: The board of Houston-based Reliant Energy has approved a plan to split the company into Reliant Resources and CenterPoint Energy. Reliant Resources will handle unregulated operations including power generation and energy trading, with CenterPoint Energy responsible for transmission grids and gas distribution.

Sulzer links: Sulzer Hexis, developer and manufacturer of fuel cell systems for single-family homes, has signed a distribution agreement with the natural gas supplier Gasverbund Mittelland in which 30 systems will be made available for testing in Swiss households. Sulzer Hexis now has agreements with installers and utilities covering 400 fuel cell systems.

Wood results: “The Wood Group is capable of significant international growth,” said chairman John Wood, while delivering interim results showing profits up 32 per cent. John Wood Group plc successfully completed its IPO in June 2002.

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