DOHA: Qatar Solar Technologies (QSTec) has purchased a 49% stake in what is left of SolarWorld AG in a deal that is considered as a lifesaver for the German photovoltaics (PV) manufacturer.
The acquisition was unveiled at a press conference in Berlin on Friday and confirmed by Qatar Solar. Under its terms, the Qatar Foundation, through Qatar Solar, will own 49% of SolarWorld Industries GmbH, a newly-registered firm that was set up to buy the struggling group’s assets and inventories. SolarWorld’s founder Frank Asbeck, the head of SolarWorld Industries, will hold the remaining 51%.
Following the transaction, SolarWorld will “significantly” cut its costs and increase the production of PV cells and modules, Asbeck said in an interview, as cited by The Gulf Times. The company’s headcount will be reduced to 515 workers, including 12% in research and development and a number of trainees. The salvaged business will try to gain market share amid the falling costs on the solar market by focusing on the production of higher quality mono PERC products with PV panel production to restart at 700 MW per year.
For Qatar Solar, the acquisition represents an opportunity to expand its operations and develop new products. The Qatari firm has set a goal to reach annual polysilicon output levels of over 50,000 tonnes in the Middle East and Africa and become a leading integrated solar company.
“We have expanded QSTec’s global reach, increased our research opportunities and gained larger access to solar technologies and markets that will be of great benefit to QSTec and our partners,” Qatar Solar’s chairman Khalid Klefeekh Al Hajri said.
Earlier this month SolarWorld’s insolvency administrator Horst Piepenburg agreed a sale of nearly all property, plant and equipment and all inventories and intangible assets of SolarWorld AG, SolarWorld Industries Sachsen GmbH, SolarWorld Innovations GmbH and SolarWorld Industries Thueringen GmbH to SolarWorld Industries GmbH. SolarWorld said at the time that the deal would allow for the continuous operation of substantial parts of its solar cell and module production.
SolarWorld has blamed Asian solar imports for the pains of the western solar industry. It fought hard for the imposition of duties on Chinese solar imports in Europe and in the USA.