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Fincantieri says wind farm work will double offshore revenue

Europe’s largest shipbuilder says a pivot from the oil industry to wind farms could more than double the revenue of its offshore business in the next five years, following the failure of its attempt to buy French rival Chantiers de l’Atlantique.

Pierroberto Folgiero, chief executive of Italy’s Fincantieri, told the Financial Times that its Vard offshore business in Norway could have revenues of up to €1.7bn by 2027, up from €700mn last year.

“Vard is our lever, our secret weapon. Renewable energy at sea is going to create a brand new economy. Vard is preparing itself for a renaissance in Norwegian shipbuilding,” he said during a visit to Norway.

Fincantieri’s current business is predominantly based on building cruise ships and naval vessels. They account for €4.2bn and €2.1bn respectively out of the group’s €7.5bn of revenues.

Folgiero is trying to revive its third pillar, the Vard offshore business, and hopes it can make €1bn-€1.1bn in revenues this year and €1.5bn-€1.7bn by 2027, as Norwegian companies that long supported the growth of the oil and gas industry turn to offshore wind.

Group revenues in 2027 should be close to €10bn, helped also by growth in naval as defence companies benefit from an increase in government spending after the Ukraine war, he said.

Vard is pushing into unmanned vessels and has already delivered the Birkeland autonomous container ship to Yara, a Norwegian fertiliser company. Folgiero said such vessels, as well as those powered by green fuels, would be vital for the offshore wind industry in the future.

“Working at sea a long time ago meant building an oil platform, now it means building a wind farm. The competences you need to build these specialised [construction] vessels are very similar. It’s not a big transition in concept. What is transformational is the innovation,” he added.

Vard earlier this month signed a deal to deliver four service vessels in 2025-26 to Edda Wind, a Norwegian offshore renewable energy company.

Fincantieri’s attempt to buy Chantiers de l’Atlantique collapsed in January amid antitrust concerns and the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on the cruise ship industry.

Folgiero, who became chief executive in May, said an understanding on the long-mooted deal with former French president François Hollande changed under Emmanuel Macron.

“The transaction was somehow interrupted . . . Italian and French industrial co-operation is one of the most interesting chapters of the book,” Folgiero said.

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