UPDATE 1-Suntech to shut Arizona solar panel making facility

Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:18am EDT

* Says hurt by U.S. tariffs, global oversupply and high production costs

* Closure to affect 43 employees

March 12 (Reuters) - Cash-strapped Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd said it would stop production at its solar panel-making facility in Goodyear, Arizona, as it looks to shore up its finances.

Suntech on Monday got a two-month reprieve on its $541 million convertible bond due this Friday after it reached an agreement with some of the bond holders. The company had debt of $2.2 billion at the end of March 2012.

Higher production costs, U.S. import tariffs on China-made solar cells and global oversupply caused the facility's closure, Suntech said in a statement.

Suntech faces U.S. duties of 35.97 percent on solar cells produced in China used at the plant.

The company, one of the world's largest solar panel manufacturers by capacity, will close the plant on April 3, affecting 43 employees.

Suntech had 17,693 employees as of December 2011, the latest period for which information is available.

The company said it was also hurt by U.S. tariffs on aluminum frames, another input in solar panel making.

Production at the facility, which was as high as 50 megwatt (MW) in 2011, was cut to 15 MW per year last November.

The company, which has not released quarterly results since the second quarter of 2012, reported losses for the four quarters before that.

Suntech shares were little changed at $1.16 before the bell on Tuesday. (Reporting by Swetha Gopinath in Bangalore; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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