Japan's Sharp to pull out of solar panel production venture in Europe

TOKYO Thu Jul 24, 2014 11:06am EDT

A visitor takes a close look at a display of Sharp Corp's solar panel at the fourth International Photovoltaic Power Generation (PV) Expo in Tokyo March 2, 2011. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

A visitor takes a close look at a display of Sharp Corp's solar panel at the fourth International Photovoltaic Power Generation (PV) Expo in Tokyo March 2, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Yuriko Nakao

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TOKYO (Reuters) - Sharp Corp (6752.T) said on Thursday it would pull out of solar cell production in Europe, handing its share of joint venture 3Sun to partner Enel Green Power SpA, a subsidiary of Italian utility Enel SpA (ENEI.MI).

The Japanese electronics company said it would sell its 33.3 percent stake for a token 1 euro ($1.35) as soon as it receives approval from 3Sun's lenders, while STMicroelectronics (STM.PA) will also sell its third stake to Enel Green Power, making 3Sun a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Italian firm.

Sharp's move goes further than what it said on July 11, when it said it would hand over its share of a solar generation venture to Enel Green Power but would keep hold of solar cell production.

The Japanese company is cutting costs and exiting unprofitable businesses as it recovers from heavy losses. It said it will continue to provide technological assistance to Enel, and will be left with just one solar cell production facility at a factory in Sakai, west Japan.

(Reporting by Sophie Knight; Editing by David Holmes)

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