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A Mighty Wind: Eolia Sets IPO

To compete with big utilities, Spain's eco-energy darling is going public to grab as many small and midsize wind power outfits as it can

Don't accuse Spanish entrepreneur Miguel Salis of tilting at windmills. He co-founded Jazztel (JAZ.BE), a telecom startup that had the audacity to take on home market champion Telefónica (TEF). Now he is tackling Spain's national utility giants with an ambitious, independent, wind and solar power company that's scheduled to go public on the Madrid exchange this year with a $1 billion valuation.

Eolia Renovables de Inversiones, which Salis co-founded with Spanish investment bank N+1 in 2003, is pursuing a novel business model. Over the past two years, it has gobbled up more than 20 small wind and solar companies around Spain, creating in the process a kind of renewable energy mini-major. It has also bought two companies in Mexico and recently added wind farms in France and Germany.