Portugal’s Martifer Solar has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for its US subsidiary, claiming that the unit’s problem is not the volume of its debts but rather their repayment schedule.
Martifer Solar, among the most globally active providers of
EPC and O&M work to the PV industry, says that despite the move it continues to view the American market as “strategic”.
Other Martifer Solar subsidiaries are not affected.
The decision to file for bankruptcy protection was reached following “failed
negotiations” with an unnamed creditor.
Martifer Solar USA “has sufficient assets to meet its
obligations to third parties” but needs to adjust its repayment schedule, the company
Chapter 11, which buys companies temporary protection from
their creditors while they reorganise their businesses, was “the most effective
procedure to ensure the ordinary course of [Martifer Solar’s] activity” in the
US, the company says.
Ironically, solar energy represents the biggest growth story
within the Martifer Group at present, and the US is one of the world’s largest and most
steadily growing PV markets.
Martifer Solar, which has installed nearly 500MW of PV
globally and runs a significant third-party O&M business, accounted for half
of the Martifer Group's €464.3m ($631m) of revenues during the first nine months of
Martifer's Solar division was also profitable during the period, in
contrast to the group’s large but loss-making Metallic Construction unit, which manufactures
things such as hotel ships and the structural steelwork going into the stadia
being built for Brazil’s upcoming World Cup. Martifer also has a much smaller wind-energy unit.
Martifer Solar entered the US market several years ago with
a bang, unveiling a blockbuster 113MW suite of power-purchase agreements with
Southern California Edison in 2010.
In 2012 it issued a press statement flagging up its success
in the US, with chief executive Henrique Rodrigues noting that the company’s “international
experience and consolidated financial strength [had been] important
differentiation factors” in that market.
Since then, however, big announcements out of the US have
been thin on the ground, even as Martifer Solar has continued to notch up important orders in a broad range of countries, including key emerging markets like India and Mexico.
The US added 4.2GW of new PV capacity in 2013, overtaking
Germany’s as the world’s largest non-Asian solar market, according to NPD Solarbuzz.
That performance compares to the 3.3GW the US added in 2012.