SolarWorld operating losses ease

Operating losses at troubled German PV group SolarWorld receded last year as a result of restructuring measures to reduce costs, according to preliminary figures. The company also reiterated that it expects to return to a positive operating result in 2015.

The widely publicised financial restructuring of the company led to a reluctance to buy its products in 2013 in its German home market, which couldn’t be fully compensated for by increased sales to European export markets, the US, Japan and South Africa.

As a result, revenue fell some 25% to €456m ($626m) in 2013.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (Ebitda) narrowed to a loss of €147m from a loss of €203m in 2012. The consolidated result before interest and tax (Ebit) narrowed to a loss of €192m last year, from a loss of €620m in the previous year.

SolarWorld sees impairments on fixed assets to have reached only €5m in 2013, after €330m in 2012.

For 2014, SolarWorld expects a rise of at least 40% in shipments of PV modules and kits, and sees a growth in consolidated revenue to more than €680m, already taking into account the acquisition of production lines belonging to Bosch Solar Energy at the Arnstadt site in the German state of Thuringia, which is planned to conclude on March 12.

The embattled PV maker expects a return to a positive Ebitda of more than €10m in 2014, but says this doesn’t take into account special effects from the financial restructuring, nor positive special effects from the consolidation of Bosch’s solar assets. The company still sees a loss on the Ebit level of between €35m and €40m this year.

SolarWorld expects a return to a positive Ebit in 2015, and to reach revenues topping €1bn in 2016.

Separately, SolarWorld said more than 80% of its bond creditors exercised their right to buy new bonds and shares in the wake of the company’s restructuring.

“Those new shares and notes of the new secured bonds for which the bond creditors did not exercise their acquisition rights were offered to the previous bond creditors and eligible previous shareholders of SolarWorld AG for additional purchase,” the company explained in a note.

Oversubscription for the less than 20% of new shares and for new notes was so high that orders for the additional purchase of news shares could only be satisfied with 50 shares in each case and an amount of well above 10% of the order volume exceeding this. The allocation prices stood at €12.5 per share.

Under the restructuring, about 55% of SolarWorld’s liabilities were converted into shares in the reformulated company following a capital increase.

Qatar Solar has said it will take a 29% equity stake in the revamped SolarWorld, while chief executive Frank Asbeck will buy 19.5% through a private investment.