FRANKFURT Aug 5 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
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)