SolarWorld remains aloof amid M&A spree

FRANKFURT Tue Jun 14, 2011 8:30am EDT

The logo of SolarWorld AG is pictured at the reception in a plant in Freiberg near Dresden in this December 17, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

The logo of SolarWorld AG is pictured at the reception in a plant in Freiberg near Dresden in this December 17, 2008 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Hannibal Hanschke

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - SolarWorld, Germany's second-largest solar company by market value, will steer clear of the solar sector's recent consolidation phase to focus on its own growth, its chief executive said. Asked whether SolarWorld was on the lookout for acquisitions, Frank Asbeck said: "No. We can only grow organically."

Speaking in an interview on Tuesday during the Reuters Climate and Energy summit, Asbeck, who owns 27.8 percent of SolarWorld, also said he had no intention to give in to M&A approaches to his company. "This is out of the question."

French energy major Total's $1.37 billion bid for a majority stake in U.S. solar company SunPower as well as Meyer Burger's 356 million euros ($512 million) bid for German group Roth & Rau has led to renewed speculation of a wide-ranging sector consolidation.

Big energy groups are confronted with governments getting more serious about a shift toward renewable sources following the nuclear disaster in Japan, with Germany's decision to pull out of nuclear power being the most prominent.

Italians a day earlier, too, voted to ban nuclear energy for decades in a referendum following Japan's Fukushima disaster.

"I'm always happy when another country moves away from nuclear power," Asbeck said.

Q2 SALES UP A THIRD

The subsidy-dependent solar sector is currently facing falling government support in its key markets Germany and Italy, but Asbeck said that the company had received major orders from new markets such as India, Indonesia and Thailand.

Asbeck added that second-quarter sales would be up about a third from sales of 233 million euros in the first quarter. The company is due to report second-quarter results on August 11.

This would equal second-quarter sales of about 310 million euros, which is lower than the Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S estimate of 398 million.

SolarWorld -- which aims for a rise in 2011 sales compared to last year, when revenues reached 1.3 billion euros -- has so far weathered a massive drop in equipment that has gripped the industry, remaining profitable partly through its large exposure to the U.S. market.

Shares in the company have gained almost a fifth since the beginning of the year, outperforming a 5 percent drop of the FTSE cleantech index of the world's biggest renewable companies. Germany's OekoDAX, the index of the country's biggest renewable groups, has gained 2 percent.

(Editing by Mike Nesbit)

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