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GE to buy LM Wind Power

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General Electric announced Tuesday it plans to purchase LM Wind Power, a wind turbine blade manufacturer that employs almost 1,000 people in Grand Forks.

The $1.65 billion deal “in-sources wind turbine blade design and manufacturing for GE’s renewable energy business, improving its ability to increase energy output and create value for onshore and offshore customers,” a GE news release said. GE does not produce blades today, and LM Wind Power is its largest blade supplier, the company added.

The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2017 after regulatory approvals. LM Wind Power has been owned by Doughty Hanson, a London-based private equity firm, since 2001.

GE, a massive conglomerate that builds everything from dishwashers to airplane engines, said its renewable energy division has more than 13,000 employees around the world. It plans to operate LM Wind Power as a standalone unit within that division, and LM will continue to be led by its existing management and retain its headquarters in Denmark.

Asked what the transaction means for existing plants such as the one in Grand Forks, LM Wind Power spokeswoman Lene Mi Ran Kristiansen said they see the deal as positive news for the company “everywhere.” She added LM Wind Power is growing in existing and new markets.

“We expect to have an even stronger basis for continuing that growth with GE as our owner,” Kristiansen said.

Asked whether the sale will mean any job losses, Kristiansen said they “certainly don’t expect that.”

LM Wind Power first announced plans to add a plant in Grand Forks Industrial Park in 1998. Back then, it was known as LM Glasfiber.

LM Wind Power currently employs 960 in Grand Forks, said Dan Gordon, senior human resources manager.

“This deal will merge the speed and focus of LM Wind Power’s entrepreneurial culture with GE’s world-class engineering and operational capabilities,” Marc de Jong, CEO of LM Wind Power, said in a statement, adding the two companies are “highly complementary.”

LM Wind Power, which was founded as a furniture manufacturer in 1940, has produced more than 185,000 blades since 1978, according to a company news release.

Cumulative wind energy capacity has grown steadily over the past decade in the U.S., from 8,993 megawatts in 2005 to 73,992 megawatts in 2015, according to the American Wind Energy Association. “The offer from GE makes clear commercial sense for the growth of LM Wind Power, and we are absolutely delighted with the prospects of having a world leader as our owner,” de Jong said in a statement.

Klaus Thiessen, president and CEO of the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corp., said he has no reason to think the sale won’t be a good thing for LM Wind Power. He said the Grand Forks factory has been an important one in the company.

“GE has always recognized the productivity and quality coming out of this plant,” Thiessen said.

Story written by John Hageman and published by Forum News Service

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