Hanergy insists 6% stake disposal not a 'sell-off'

Hanergy Holding has said that its chairman’s recent disposal of a 6% stake in group unit Hanergy Thin Film Power (HTF) was solely driven by the company’s ongoing debt-financing efforts.

In a single-line statement on its website, the Beijing-based group insisted that the transaction should not be characterised as a “sell-off,” without elaborating further on the matter.

Hanergy founder and chairman Li Hejun — at one time, one of the wealthiest men in China — revealed plans earlier this week to sell roughly 2.5 billion of his shares in the company at 0.18 yuan ($0.03) per share to an undisclosed investor, reducing his stake in HTF to 74.75%.

The troubled thin-film PV manufacturer’s stock has been suspended from trading on the Hong Kong stock exchange since last May, when it suddenly fell 47% in a single morning trading session.

Prior to the abrupt decline in HTF’s share price — which shaved off roughly $19bn from its market capitalisation — its equity valuation had far exceeded that of US-based First Solar, its main thin-film rival.

Li’s stake sale earlier this week sets HTF’s current valuation at about $1.16bn, versus a market value of approximately $21.06bn before the stock plunged in value last spring.

Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) has yet to wrap up its ongoing investigation into HTF, launched in the wake of its share-price plunge and mounting questions over its business practices. 

The group has particularly struggled since late August, when HTF revealed plans to lay off 36.6% of its staff, in response to a first-half loss of HK$59.3m ($7.65m).

In November, Ikea scrapped a deal under which the Hanergy group sold its thin-film PV modules at the Swedish retailer’s stores throughout Europe.

The Financial Times — which has long questioned HTF’s transactions with its parent, as well as unusual movements of its Hong Kong-listed shares before the SFC halted them from trading — reported earlier this month that the group has been threatened with legal action on claims it owes rental payments for its now-vacant offices in Hong Kong.

Hanergy Holding has repeatedly ignored Recharge’s requests to comment on its troubles over the past year.