Canadian renewables operator Western Wind hits out at market speculators

Exasperation over “unregulated market participants”

Canadian renewables firm Western Wind Energy Corp. has put itself up for sale, saying it’s had enough of speculation in its stock, which is traded on the Toronto Venture Exchange.

Western Wind put the decision down to the “consistent suffering” its shareholders have endured at the hands of “unregulated market participants trading the stock price down to levels that only serve to frustrate and shake out retail investors”.

The Vancouver-based firm, which operates three wind parks in California and a combined wind and solar power facility in Arizona, estimates that its shares are worth between C$2.50 and C$5 (€2-4)– although they are currently around the C$1.79 mark.

Western Wind launched on the exchange in March 2002 at C$1.1. Despite a very short-lived high of more than C$4 in 2008, the stock has never consistently traded above C$2.According to the firm, which reported strong growth in operating profit as measured by EBITDA for the first quarter 2012, the stock has been held down by negative speculation among short-term oriented investors like hedge funds.

“We have kept the shares outstanding incredibly small and we did not pay advisory fees to buy favour with stock analysts. As a result, we watch many friends (among them retail investors) suffer at the hands of a few self serving analysts and their unregulated clients,” said Western Wind CEO Jeff Ciachurski. The firm also has several long-term oriented investors, including US accounting firm Goodman and Co.

The shares rallied to above $2 in early October 2011 after a surprise bid for the firm by Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp, a Canadian utility intent on expanding its renewable energy business. In the event, Western Wind rejected the C$2.50-a-share bid as too low.