Tokyo Electron buys Swiss PV equipment group Oerlikon

Japan’s Tokyo Electron says it will buy Swiss thin-film PV production equipment supplier Oerlikon Solar for about 22.5bn yen ($275m) in cash.

Tokyo Electron, which makes production equipment for semiconductors and flat-panel displays, says the acquisition will help its goal of establishing solar panel equipment as one of its core businesses.

The Tokyo-based company already has a joint venture with Sharp that produces module manufacturing equipment.

The takeover of Oerlikon Solar – a subsidiary of the Oerlikon Group – is subject to regulatory approval in several countries, but Tokyo Electron expects to conclude the deal by June.

Oerlikon Solar has 870MW of production capacity and made sales of Sfr254m ($278m) in 2010. It employs 675 people at eight sites around the world.

Oerlikon Group, a diversified engineering and technology business, says the sale makes sense for the solar division, adding that Tokyo Electron has acted as a sales agent for the Swiss company for several years.

“Tokyo Electron is an ideal strategic buyer for our solar business. Its main operations are close to the predominantly Asian customer base, and having had a partnership with them for three years, they know our solar segment well,” says chief executive Michael Buscher.