UTC: an eventual majority purchase of Clipper is possible

"We’ve been looking at wind energy for a long time," United Tech Chief Financial Officer Greg Hayes said at an investor conference. "We always liked the space. We see the movement toward clean energy as a space that we can participate in with the technologies that we have."

The Hartford, Connecticut-based company in December paid about $271 million for a 49.5 percent stake in Carpinteria, California-based Clipper. Hayes noted that technology developed by United Tech’s aircraft engine business could be used to improve the performance of Clipper wind turbines, an approach rival General Electric has also taken in the wind power sector.

"If over the next couple of years we see what we like, we always have the opportunity to take a majority share if we want," Hayes said of Clipper. "If we like the market dynamics, I think you might see more in that space or other alternative technology spaces, which are adjacent to markets where we can use UTC technologies."

The world’s largest maker of elevators and air conditioners also has a sizable fuel cell operation. United Tech remains interested in other investments in the clean-tech area, Hayes said. The company has a $3 billion 2010 takeover budget, though more than half of that is going for its acquisition of GE’s security business.

United Technologies Corp. (NYSE) today announced it has agreed to acquire a 49.5 percent stake in Clipper Windpower Plc (CWP.L), a California-based wind turbine manufacturer that trades on the AIM London Stock Exchange.

UTC’s total investment will be $270 million to purchase a combination of 84.3 million newly issued shares and 21.8 million shares from existing shareowners. The investment has been approved by the boards of directors of both UTC and Clipper Windpower.

Clipper Windpower is engaged in wind energy technology, turbine manufacturing, and wind farm development. Headquartered in Carpinteria, Calif., the company has a wind turbine manufacturing plant in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and research and development facilities in Carpinteria, Calif., and Blyth Harbor, U.K. The company had 2008 revenues of $737 million.

The agreement allows UTC to expand its power generation portfolio and enter the high-growth wind power segment by investing in a company with strong management and innovative technology. The $50 billion-plus segment for wind turbines and installation has grown at an annual rate of 25 percent during this decade.

UTC expects to work closely with Clipper Windpower to improve the company’s core technology, manufacturing, product quality, and supply management capabilities. This investment leverages the world-class expertise of UTC business units in blade technology, wind turbines and gearbox design. It also builds on UTC’s existing portfolio of energy efficient products and power generation systems that respond to the world’s growing demand for cleaner, more efficient solutions.

United Technologies Corp., based in Hartford, Connecticut, is a diversified company that provides a broad range of high technology products and support services to the building systems and aerospace industries.