SolarWorld swings to operating loss on demand slump in Germany

FRANKFURT Tue May 28, 2013 10:12am EDT

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Ailing solar panel maker SolarWorld SWVG.DE swung to an operating loss in the first three months of the year, as severe winter weather hurt demand in its home market Germany.

The company, once Germany's largest solar company, said on Tuesday it made a loss before interest and tax of 36.2 million euros ($46.8 million) in the first quarter, compared with an operating profit of 26.6 million in the year earlier period.

Sales fell to 112 million euros, down from 170.5 million.

Hit by plunging prices for solar panels and low-cost competition from Asia, SolarWorld has entered negotiations with creditors to restructure a large part of its debt.

It has spearheaded efforts to impose import duties on Chinese solar products in the United States and Europe, putting it at odds with Chinese peers and some local rivals that oppose the duties as damaging.

Western manufacturers of solar power equipment, above all in Germany, have come under intense pressure due to a global overcapacity in the solar industry, which has forced many players including some of the formerly biggest players, Q-Cells QCEG.UL and Solon (SOOG.MU), to file for insolvency.

Last week, SolarWorld said it would invite holders of two outstanding convertible bonds in early July for further negotiations after two meetings last week ended without any progress as not enough creditors were present.

The company said it expects all resolutions to implement the debt restructuring will be passed in August.

($1 = 0.7729 euros)

(Reporting by Christoph Steitz; Editing by Mark Potter)

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