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Goodbye Alstom, hello Converteam
Published:  01 April, 2006

The drives, motors and generators business previously known as Alstom Power Conversion, has been renamed Converteam. The independent business was created late last year when Alstom sold its Power Conversion division to a management team backed by Barclays Private Equity.

Alstom had to sell the business as a condition for the European Commission to approve the €3.8bn rescue package for the engineering giant led by the French Government. Converteam includes all of the former Power Conversion businesses, except for a small airport lighting and control business which has been kept by Alstom. The new company has a turnover of around €700m and a global staff of more than 3,300 people, including more than 900 in the UK.

Converteam is aiming to hit €1bn of business by 2010, says Rich Furniss, the company`s service director. The company plans to reach this target primarily through organic growth.

As well as the ranges of motors, generators, control systems and low and medium voltage AC drives developed within Alstom, Converteam is also responsible for products from various operations that Alstom acquired, including parts of GEC, CGE, AEG, Westinghouse Drives and Cegelec. These include drive and control products sold under the Alspa, GEM80 and GEMdrive brands.

The company plans to focus most of its efforts on large, bespoke systems, mainly for customers in the marine, offshore, oil and gas, power generation, mining, water, paper, steel, aluminium and materials-handling industries. "We`re pitching ourselves as a customiser," says Furniss.

Despite the change in ownership, Converteam`s UK operation has won orders worth more than £180m over the past 12 months. "2005/6 has been a momentous year for us, with many long-term plans coming together," says Converteam`s UK managing director, Prosanto Das-Gupta. "We have secured significant long-term contracts and are actively addressing several emerging and new markets."

One of these emerging areas is renewable energy - primarily wind power, but also involving some wave and tidal power - where Converteam expects soon to secure multi-million pound research grants to develop renewable energy technologies. The company also has an expertise in superconducting machines.

Converteam has won orders in recent months from customers including: BP Shipping, for power, propulsion and automation systems for six LNG carriers; Siemens Wind Energy, for wind turbine converter systems; and Dunaferr, for a hot strip mill upgrade in Hungary. Converteam is also working with the UK Ministry of Defence on an electromagnetic launcher technology and is supplying the power and propulsion systems for the British Navy`s new Type 45 destroyers.

Converteam`s main UK sites are in Kidsgrove (where it makes drives products), Rugby (mainly generators and specialist motors) and Glasgow (large system drives and MV switchgear).

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