Orsted Cuts Investment, Capacity Targets After Review

(Photo: Orsted)
(Photo: Orsted)

Orsted, the world's biggest offshore wind farm developer, trimmed its investment and capacity targets on Wednesday and paused dividend payouts as part of a major review.

The Danish company has battled to restore investor confidence after halting the development of two U.S. offshore wind projects in November with related impairments surging above $5 billion, which more than halved the value of its shares.

Orsted lowered its target for power generation capacity by the end of the decade to 35-38 gigawatts (GW), from 50 GW previously.

It also said it would reduce capital expenditure in the coming three years by 35 billion Danish crowns ($5.05 billion), pause dividends for 2023-2025 and sell assets worth around 115 billion crowns towards 2030.

In addition, it announced plans to cut as many as 800 jobs and exit markets in Norway, Spain and Portugal.

"There is no doubt that confidence in Orsted has taken a blow over the past six months," Anders Schelde, chief investment officer at Danish pension fund AkademikerPension, told Reuters.

"This plan is a necessary prerequisite for rebuilding that trust. The plan itself does not restore confidence, but it looks reasonable and it's a good start," he said, adding the pension fund owns Orsted shares worth 330 million crowns.

The moves come less than a year after Orsted laid out ambitious plans to invest 475 billion Danish crowns to achieve its 2030 goal.

Investors had worried that Orsted would stick to its ambitious targets and opt to raise new capital. The company said its new "business plan is fully financed without any need for raising new equity."

It plans to invest 270 billion crowns towards the end of the decade. Of that, 130 billion crowns will be invested over the coming three years to achieve a target of 23 GW of installed power generation capacity by 2026.

Orsted CEO Mads Nipper said on a media call the company is maintaining its overall "aim to be the world leader in offshore wind" and would keep its margin target of 150 to 300 basis points.

"The plan is sound at first glance," Bernstein analyst Deepa Venkateswaran said in a note.

Orsted also said its Chairman Thomas Thune Andersen will step down.

Orsted shares have risen by around two-thirds since early November but are still well below their level before the first writedowns were announced. They were 2.4% lower at 0944 GMT.

($1 = 6.9278 Danish crowns)

(Reuters - Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen; additional reporting by Stine Jacobsen; editing by Terje Solsvik, Shri Navaratnam, Alexander Smith and Christian Schmollinger)

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