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Western Wind Rises on Utility Interest in Sale: Vancouver Mover

Western Wind Energy Corp., a Canadian renewable-energy developer with projects in the western U.S., gained after saying three U.S. electric utilities are negotiating to buy the company.

Western Wind rose 10.3 percent to C$2.04 at the close in Toronto and earlier jumped to C$2.12, the highest intraday since Nov. 23. Prior to announcing plans for the sale on July 30, the shares had fallen 41 percent this year.

The company, which rejected a C$2.50-a-share takeover bid from Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp. last year, said today it will select an adviser to manage the sale next week. Algonquin scrapped its bid in October after Western Wind said it “undervalued” the company by at least half.

Western Wind, based in Vancouver, owns and operates three wind projects in California totaling 154.5 megawatts and one 10.5-megawatt combined wind-and-solar plant in Arizona. The company plans to continue developing a project in Puerto Rico that will be included in the sale, it said July 30.

A previously announced deal to buy the development assets of Champlin/GIE Wind Holdings LLC, including early stage projects in Hawaii, Utah, California and other U.S. states, has been canceled, Western Wind said today.

Some shareholders aren’t supporting management’s handling of the sale. Savitr Capital LLC, which says its investors have “significant” shares in Western Wind, plans to nominate five new directors at the company’s annual shareholder meeting on Sept. 25, according to a July 31 statement.

Sale Process

Western Wind’s current board and management “does not have the resolve, experience or credibility to initiate or conclude a sale process or any other plan to maximize shareholder value,” said Andrew Midler, a managing member of Savitr, said in the statement.

Western Wind Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Ciachurski responded to Midler’s “hysterical and dishonest” statement by saying Midler “is interested in only one party and this is himself and his offshore fund,” which is based in the Grand Cayman Islands, according to a statement July 31.

“Western Wind has many more facts that will only serve to embarrass the proponents of this proxy battle,” Ciachurski said. “Western Wind is committed to complete the sale process,” he said.

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