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Chinese firm to buy German thin film unit

Hanergy to buy Q-Cells unit to expand into Germany’s solar market

Chinese firm Hanergy has agreed to buy the Solibro thin-film unit of Q-Cells SE
Chinese firm Hanergy has agreed to buy the Solibro thin-film unit of Q-Cells SE to expand into Germany’s solar market

A Chinese renewables firm is set to move into Germany’s solar market after buying the thin film unit of a firm in the country. Hanergy Holding Group, a Chinese renewable-energy operator, has agreed to buy the Solibro thin-film unit of Germany’s Q-Cells SE (QCE) to expand in the world’s biggest solar market by installed capacity, according to reports.

The deal will help Hanergy reach 3 GW in annual solar-panel volume by the end of the year, the Beijing-based company said today in a statement in the city, Bloomberg has reported.

“We want to adopt advanced technology,” said Jason Chow, chief executive officer of Hanergy global investment and sales. “Thin-film technology has more potential and room for price reduction.”

Chinese renewable-energy developers including solar-wafer maker LDK Solar Co. (LDK) are snapping up rivals in Germany, where subsidy cuts, declining demand and rising overseas supply have squeezed profit margins. Germany’s Solar Millennium AG, Solon SE (SOO1) and Q-Cells have all filed for insolvency since December.

Hanergy is boosting investments in a technology dominated by First Solar Inc, the biggest maker of thin-film panels, and plans thin-film photovoltaic cell plants in Guangdong, Sichuan and Heilongjiang provinces. In 2010 it purchased a 51.6 per cent stake in Apollo Solar Energy Technology Holdings Ltd. (566), a Hong Kong-listed maker of silicon-based solar modules and cells.

“Hanergy seems to be interested in Solibro’s thin-film technology,” Heinz Steffen, an analyst at Fairesearch GmbH in Kronberg, Germany, Bloomberg said. “It’s important for Q-Cells to get a good price for Solibro to reduce some of its debt.”

LDK, the second-biggest solar-wafer maker, completed its purchase of a 71 per cent stake in Germany’s Sunways AG (SWW) in April.

“The industry is obviously in consolidation,” Chow said. “With more and more companies filing for bankruptcies, mergers and acquisitions are necessary and will become the norm.”

Last November, China Development Bank Corp. agreed to give a 30 billion-yuan (USD 4.7bn) credit line to Hanergy to work on solar and hydropower projects and expand abroad. Hanergy says it’s China’s largest privately owned renewable-energy provider.

The company will finance the Solibro acquisition using its own overseas funds, and plans to retain the unit’s workforce and operations. After the deal is completed, Solibro will raise production to 100 MW at its Thalheim plant in Germany, Alberta Rohardt, a spokeswoman for Q-Cells, said today by phone.

“Hanergy will provide the extensive network, the strong production capacity and the long-term R&D investment,” Chow said. “We’re confident the acquisition will enhance Solibro’s performance and capacity despite the industry’s current downturn.”