Theolia to Start Moroccan Wind Farm Development

Theolia SA, a French wind-energy developer, expects to begin developing the first stage of its 300-megawatt project in Morocco over the next few months, its chief executive officer said.

The Aix-en-Provence-based company signed an agreement with the Moroccan government’s Office National de l’Electricite in May 2011 for a two-phase wind project. The first stage will double the capacity at the company’s existing 50-megawatt site in Tetouan on the north coast of Morocco.

“We will be ready to start building this wind farm in a few months,” Fady Khallouf, the CEO, said by phone today. The wind conditions in Morocco combined with political support of the industry make it an attractive market, and Theolia is eyeing further opportunities in the country, according to Khallouf.

Theolia today reported its loss widened in the first half as a surge in interest expenses offset a 21 percent gain in electricity sales, according to an e-mailed statement. The net loss was 10.3 million euros ($12.9 million) compared with 6.86 million euros in the first six months of 2011.

Theolia’s shares fell as much as 7.2 percent to 1.68 euros in Paris trading. The stock has risen 38 percent since the start of the month.

Interest expense relating to the company’s convertible bond rose to 6.5 million euros from 2 million euros last year as the number of bond conversions fell from last year’s levels. Measures to pare debt at French wind farms resulted in a one-time accounting charge of 2 million euros, Khallouf said.

The financial charges overshadowed a doubling of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. That measure rose to 15.9 million euros from 7.6 million euros. Revenue from electricity sales rose 21 percent to 26.3 million euros.

“Despite the financial crisis, we are able to grow and able to improve our profitability,” the CEO said.

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