Suntech Power guns for retail remake

Suntech Power Holdings, the bankrupt holding company of the former Suntech empire, is hoping to lure a strategic investor to help it start over as a retail PV specialist in high-margin markets.

With the recent finalization of Shunfeng’s acquisition of Wuxi Suntech, the former manufacturing arm of Suntech Power Holdings (SPH), that company’s near-term future has largely been cast.

Wuxi Suntech intends to sell as many modules through the normal market channels as possible, with any excess to feed Shunfeng’s hugely ambitious project development plans in China, according to new chief executive Eric Luo.

The big remaining question is what will happen to SPH, which lost control of its factories, intellectual property and the Suntech brand, but which retains control over most of the former Suntech empire’s vast sales and distribution networks.

The preferred outcome for SPH is to transform into a downstream retail PV specialist in the US, Japan and Europe, according to one of the company’s two provisional liquidators in the Cayman Islands.

To that end, the company will over the next six to nine months seek up to $150m of working capital from a strategic investor, the provisional liquidator told Bloomberg.

He added that a pivot towards the retail PV business – rather than simply liquidating the company – is preferable to many bondholders, who will have a say in any decision's about the company's future business model.

The claim comes several weeks after the first signs of détente between Wuxi Suntech and SPH emerged, with the two striking several deals that will see SPH act as a sales intermediary and after-sales service provider for Wuxi Suntech modules over the next year.