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Monday, August 1, 2011

If Vestas is sold, will it leave Portland?

When I worked as a corporate lawyer, the most bittersweet type of transaction on which we labored was helping a local client sell a business. Invariably, the buyer was from out of state, and with the sale would come a prompt change of management at the target company. That usually meant that the corporate headquarters was soon moved out of Oregon, and most or all of the corporate legal work went with it. The takeover was often the last real deal that we'd get to work on for that business.

Portland took a serious blow of this type last January, when the Russian outfit Evraz, which bought Oregon Steel Mills, announced that it was pulling its American corporate executives out of town and shipping them off to Chicago. It kept some of its steel manufacturing operations here, but the high-paid execs all flew the coop.

All this is by way of background to an alarming story that hit the wires last week: Vestas, the European wind power company, has been tagged as a likely takeover target. This is the same company on which Portland and Oregon have lavished a monstrously cushy deal. They are handing City Hall sweetheart Mark Edlen millions of dollars (directly or indirectly) to build Vestas a new headquarters in the old Meier & Frank warehouse where the Pearl District meets the freeway.

If some bigger, more stable outfit buys Vestas, it could easily decide, as Evraz did, that Portland's not the right place for its American headquarters. In which case the city and the state will have blown several million dollars on the Edlen deal and gotten little or nothing out of it.

But wait -- Edlen will have a nicely refurbished building. And how much of the bag will the public be left holding? Funny how few details have ever seen the light of day, nearly a year after the hotsy totsy press conference announcing the deal. Anyway, we continue to be skeptical of Portland's "green economy" future. Talk is cheap.

Comments (7)

Green economy talk is cheap.

Green economy jobs, not so much.

But it is hard to say, when the Green jobs never materialize. Green vapor jobs, ala OHSU SoWhat.

How funny.

BTW a couple Sunday's ago I found myself on I-5 & Marine drive so I drove through the Port of Portland Rivergate District looking for any signs of the upcoming SoloPower manufacturing facility & 500 jobs.

For a new company who supposedly had no time to wait for a public vote in Wilsonville for the $11 million local incentive (on top of the fed and state millions) I found no sign of any SoloPower.

I could have missed it but I remain skeptical about the whjole deal.

So where is the news of their facility's location and imminent opening?

Is this really so lame there is not even an identified site that can be announced?

I wonder if Adams knows about a lot of things going sideways and that made his decision not to run.

His lips have been moving a lot lately so we know he's been lying a lot.

With a creep like that it safe to always assume the worst.

As Jack reported earlier there is over $43,500 per each 100 new jobs Vesta is promising for the renovation of the Meier and Frank building. And there is more since the building has been given historical tax classification saving Edlen and Vestas the property tax bill. Not bad to get over $35 million in taxpayer subsidies for 100 vaporized jobs. Go Green. Maybe it should be Go Ducks.

"The City of Portland will extend an $8 million interest-free loan to Gerding Edlen, subject to approval of the Portland Development Commission board. Adams figures the city will recoup interest costs for the 15-year loan through property taxes and fees."

Wanna make a bet G-E will get a waiver on the property taxes? Of course, no rush in repaying that $8M loan at no interest either.

The Vestas logo is a picture of Lucy van Pelt pulling a football away from Charlie Brown.

Figuratively speaking, Portland is a lot like the girl at the bar who chases away the local guy and falls a line from a traveling salesman.

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