By Karl-Erik Stromsta in London and Bernd Radowitz in Berlin
Friday, January 17 2014
Updated: Friday, January 17 2014
German automotive giant Robert Bosch will pay SolarWorld up to €130m ($177m) to assume ownership of its PV manufacturing facilities and keep most of the staff employed there on its books, according to a report.
Last November SolarWorld confirmed plans to buy Bosch’s solar factories in Arnstadt, eastern Germany, comprising 700MW of cell and 200MW of module capacity.
SolarWorld did not disclose the terms of the deal at the time, but said that the plant transfer would not reduce its own financial resources.
But Bosch’s willingness to pay SolarWorld to take its factories and workers off its hands adds a new wrinkle to the drama. The story was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
The €130m figure would reportedly be reduced should the PV industry rebound significantly in the near term.
Under the terms of the deal – expected to close next month – SolarWorld would not be able to use the factories as collateral or to pay down its creditors for a number of years.
Contacted by Recharge, SolarWorld declined to comment on the story.
Earlier this week a German court approved SolarWorld’s restructuring plan, which will see Qatar Solar buying a 29% equity stake in the revamped company, while its existing shareholders are largely wiped out.
Last spring Robert Bosch, whose primary business involves manufacturing kit for the automotive industry, decided to exit the c-Si PV sector altogether, abandoning its plan to establish a factory in Malaysia.
Meanwhile, one of Bosch’s last remaining PV assets – the German PV manufacturer Aleo Solar – is still in the hunt for a new investor.
Time, however, is running out quickly for Aleo, with Bosch having only promised to fund Aleo through March.