Insolvent Conergy halts module plant

Insolvent German PV group Conergy has halted production at its PV module plant in Frankfurt (Oder), a company spokeswoman told Recharge.

The embattled German solar company and its German subsidiaries on Friday unexpectedly filed for insolvency  at the district court in Hamburg.

The Frankfurt (Oder) plant has a 250MW module production capacity and employs 320 workers, while the Rangsdorf unit has 200 employees. Conergy has a total of 1,200 employees, 800 of who are based in Germany.

Conergy denied earlier reports in the German media that production at its Mounting Systems unit was also halted.

"Mounting fully able to fulfil its deliveries. For the about 200 employees there, for now nothing changes," newly-appointed insolvency administrator Sven-Holger Undritz said in a statement.

Undritz added that a resumption of output at Conergy's module factory in Frankfurt (Oder) is also aimed for.

"We currently are holding consultative talks with various groups of stake-holders, which includes political representatives," Undritz said.

Salaries of Conergy employees for now are being paid with insolvency grants, he added.

Conergy on Friday had said recent promising negotiations over the entry of a strategic investor into its capital had not been approved in time by a consortium of creditor banks. At the same time, the company said it unexpectedly failed to be paid for a large project, which led to the insolvency of its Mounting Systems and Conergy SolarModule subsidiaries.

The court has appointed Sven-Holger Undritz from the Hamburg-based law firm White Case as insolvency administrator, who will now have to decide whether, or how, operations can be resumed during the insolvency proceedings.

The rapid closedown of the Frankfurt production facility came as a surprise after CEO Philip Comberg on Friday said the Conergy board was keen to continue operations and safeguard jobs at the company. The company spokeswoman could not say whether Conergy’s management in Hamburg or the insolvency administrator had ordered the plant shutdown.

The company’s insolvency came as a surprise, as Conergy recently had signalled that its restructuring was starting to bear fruits.

The solar firm in the first quarter still posted a net loss of €17.8m ($22.9m), and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) of a loss of €11.7m. But its board had said it expects a “slightly positive Ebitda” for the whole of 2013 amid rising sales.

Following  a major restructuring, Conergy was increasingly moving into large-scale project development in Asia and North America, while limiting its German production facilities to modules and mounting systems.

Note: Update to earlier version adds comments from insolvency administrator.