SolarWorld secures bondholder backing for overhaul

FRANKFURT Mon Aug 5, 2013 8:53am EDT

FRANKFURT Aug 5 (Reuters) - Germany's SolarWorld has secured backing for a wide-ranging restructuring plan from holders of one of its outstanding convertible bonds, a key step in the solar group's overhaul.

SolarWorld had to embark on a debt restructuring to cope with the pressures of overcapacity in the solar industry, where falling prices and tough Asian competition have pushed some big players such as Q-Cells and Solon, to file for insolvency.

Companies in the Germany, the world's largest single solar market, have been particularly hard hit by Chinese rivals.

At a creditors meeting on Monday, SolarWorld said 99.96 percent of holders of a 150 million euro ($199 million) convertible bond agreed to the restructuring measures, basically accepting a "haircut" of 55 percent.

Some of SolarWorld's biggest bondholders include investment firms GFC Advisers LLC, Do Investment AG and PEH Wertpapier AG , according to Thomson Reuters data.

SolarWorld, once Germany's largest solar power group, now needs the approval of holders of a second 400 million euro convertible bond on Aug. 6 as well as that of shareholders at an extraordinary meeting on Aug. 7.

Under SolarWorld's debt restructuring deal, Qatar Solar will invest 35 million euros in SolarWorld, becoming a 29-percent shareholder in the group, while existing shareholders will end up with 5 percent.

Qatar Solar is owned by the Qatar Foundation and owns 70 percent in Qatar Solar Technologies (QSTec), a joint venture with SolarWorld, which owns 29 percent.

As part of the deal, SolarWorld Chief Executive Frank Asbeck will invest 10 million euros of private funds, giving him a 19.5 percent stake. He currently owns 27.84 percent. ($1 = 0.7528 euros) (Reporting by Christoph Steitz. Editing by Jane Merriman)