* Meyerhoff was CFO before leading new utility business
* Had served as president of utility unit for a year
* Gave no reason for departure
(Adds background on First Solar, Meyerhoff, analyst comment,
By Nichola Groom
LOS ANGELES, Aug 16 First Solar Inc (FSLR.O) on
Tuesday said the head of its utility systems business, Jens
Meyerhoff, is leaving the company, effective Sept. 30.
James Brown, senior vice president of utility systems
business sales, will succeed Meyerhoff in the utility-scale
solar unit and will report to Chief Executive Rob Gillette.
Meyerhoff, who served as the company's chief financial
officer for four years before being tapped to lead the
fast-growing utility unit, did not give a reason for his
"The company has now reached a size and scale that allows
me to step back and self-reflect before deciding my next step
in life," he said in a statement. He noted several recent
milestones in the company's U.S. utility-scale solar business,
including the sale of its 290 megawatt Agua Caliente project in
Arizona to NRG Energy Inc (NRG.N) and the start of construction
on its 550 MW Desert Sunlight power plant in California.
Meyerhoff joined the company as CFO in 2006 and became
president of its newly created utility systems unit slightly
more than a year ago in July of 2010.
"It's a little surprising considering the fact that he just
fairly recently took on the job as president of the company's
utility business," said Brigantine Advisors analyst Ramesh
Misra. "He was the CFO for a long time and most of the Street
knew him as the CFO. Moving over to the utility business went
to show how much importance the company accorded its utility
His departure is the latest of several management shifts at
the world's most valuable solar company since longtime CEO Mike
Ahearn stepped down from that post in late 2009 and handed over
the reins to Honeywell Aerospace (HON.N) veteran Gillette.
Most recently, the company's president of operations, Bruce
Sohn, left the company in April to pursue other opportunities.
He is now CEO of energy storage startup Fluidic Energy.
A month before that, First Solar appointed Mark Widmar as
its new finance chief, replacing interim CFO James Zhu. Zhu is
now the company's chief accounting officer.
As part of the management transition, Frank DeRosa will
become the utility business's senior vice president of business
development for the Americas, First Solar said.
(Reporting by Nichola Groom, editing by Bernard Orr, Gary