* HTF to publish H1 results on Aug. 28, said net loss likely
* HTF in need of new clients after severing links with parent
* Company is under investigation by Hong Kong market watchdog
By Umesh Desai
HONG KONG, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Hanergy Thin Film Power Group Ltd (HTF), which is being probed by Hong Kong regulators after its stock suddenly plunged, will have to convince shareholders about its outlook after it cut ties with its parent, which last year alone bought about two-thirds of its solar panel making equipment.
HTF, whose valuation peaked at $48.5 billion in March only to plunge by nearly half in less than one hour two months later, has already warned the unravelling of these contracts may result in a first-half net loss, which would be its first since 2009.
The company, whose stock has been suspended since it crashed on May 20, reports first-half results on Friday. It did not give a figure for the potential loss.
“Hanergy’s recent announcements about its contract and profits are akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic,” said Soren Aandahl, director at shortseller Glaucus Research.
“Hanergy has shown little ability to attract customers who were not also named Hanergy,” he told Reuters. “I would be surprised if it ever traded again.”
HTF did not respond to Reuters requests for comment about its decision to suspend ties with its parent, or to questions about its business outlook.
HTF is controlled by Li Hejun, who at one point this year dethroned Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s Jack Ma as China’s richest man. It manufactures solar panel making machines and its main customers have so far been unlisted China-based parent Hanergy Holding and its four affiliates.
Hanergy Holding accounted for 62 percent of HTF’s sales in 2014, public filings show. Last week, however, HTF said it was cancelling or suspending these contracts to address concerns by the Securities and Futures Commission about its dependence on its parent, but gave no details.
Reuters had previously reported that HTF was resisting an SFC request to disclose the parent company accounts to the regulator as a condition to resume trading.
Analysts say thin film solar panels are inefficient by industry standards, and that makes it difficult for HTF to find external clients. Thin film panels have an 8-9 percent conversion rate, which measures the efficiency of turning solar energy into power, while the industry average is 11-15 percent.
“Uncertainties related to its thin film technology and market responses to the solar applications are still very high,” BNP Paribas, which has a “reduce” recommendation on the stock, said in a report.
Some of the contracts HTF has struck with external clients include a $660 million deal in February with Shandong Macrolink New Resources Technology Ltd, an unlisted company which produces thin-film solar collectors. It also agreed to sell a 3.6 percent stake to a core investor of Shandong Macrolink for $700 million, company filings show.
Shandong Macrolink, however, told Reuters last week it had closed that deal, adding that it did not expect future cooperation with HTF due to its uncertain future.
“HTF sold almost all its production to the parent company and if those contracts were cancelled, there is no real market for their equipment,” said Hong-Kong based CLSA analyst Charles Yonts. (Additional reporting by Emma Yang; Editing by Lisa Jucca and Miral Fahmy)