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His wife pointed to the newspaper ad and said, ‘You could do this.’ Peter Kruse considered it: the world’s largest wind turbine manufacturer, Vestas Wind Systems, generating over $5 bn annual revenue, needed someone to tell its story. Kruse knew he could do the job. At 45, he was among Denmark’s most experienced IR practitioners with stints as analyst, portfolio manager, salesperson and, most recently, IRO at a couple of Danish companies. He just wasn’t entirely sure how to do it.
Since its 1998 listing on the OMX Nordic Exchange with a market cap of $100 mn, Vestas’ stock had been on a sustained roller-coaster ride with a legacy of profit warnings and other surprises. ‘People had become more focused on the stock price than the company,’ recalls Kruse. ‘But to survive on the stock exchange you have to ensure your customers and the market know what’s going on inside your company.’
Kruse admits that this epiphany came several months after his May 2006 appointment as vice president of group communications at Vestas. He has subsequently watched as Vestas’ stock price (aided by a restructuring) has roughly tripled while its corporate reputation has soared. ‘People had this image of Vestas as a bunch of blacksmiths building primitive towers with propellers,’ says Kruse. ‘The fact is that wind turbines conceal some of the most difficult design challenges imaginable and require the talents of a diversity of highly educated people. The world simply did not know what was going on at Vestas.’