July 19, 2011 / 11:40 AM / 7 years ago

UPDATE 2-Energy Conversion to sell battery unit

* Ovonics Battery Co invented technology used in hybrids

* Unit is profitable, has growing revenue stream

* Shares down 2.7 percent

LOS ANGELES, July 19 (Reuters) - Energy Conversion Devices Inc ENER.O said it will sell its battery unit as part of a broad restructuring plan to focus on improving performance at its primary solar power business.

Energy Conversion Devices’ Ovonic Battery Co licenses its battery technologies for consumer, stationary and vehicle applications. The company’s battery technologies include nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) and lithium-ion.

Ovonics Battery was founded in 1982. The company’s founder, scientist Stanford Ovshinsky, invented and patented the NiMH battery used in most hybrid vehicles.

In a statement, the company said OBC is profitable and has a growing revenue stream.

In recent years, however, Energy Conversion Devices has thrown its weight behind development of solar power technology.

The Auburn Hills, Michigan-based company makes lightweight, flexible solar laminates for rooftops and buildings, but its products are less efficient at converting sunlight into electricity than rival technologies and Energy Conversion Devices has struggled with stiff competition.

This year, the loss-making company has been plagued by cutbacks in incentives for solar power in top European solar markets, particularly Italy.

In May, the company said it would lay off a fifth of its workforce and said its chief executive of more than three years, Mark Morelli, had resigned. The company is still searching for a permanent replacement for Morelli. [ID:nL3E7GA1QS]

Energy Conversion shares were down 3 cents, or 2.7 percent, at $1.10 in mid-day trade on the Nasdaq. The stock has lost 76 percent of its value sine the beginning of 2011. (Reporting by Nichola Groom in Los Angeles and Vaishnavi Bala in Bangalore; Editing by Maju Samuel, Phil Berlowitz)

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