December 6, 2018 / 9:47 PM / 3 days ago

Russian billionaire wants Switzerland's Meyer Burger to raise cash, renew board

ZURICH, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Meyer Burger’s largest shareholder on Thursday called for the money-losing Swiss solar machinery maker to renew its board of directors and to consider raising money to finance its own efforts to manufacture solar cells.

Sentis Capital PCC, an investment vehicle of Russian billionaire Petr Kondrashev which own 6.14 percent of Meyer Burger stock, said in a statement that the Thun-based solar engineering group should consider raising cash “on the capital market or through a strategic partner”.

Funds raised could go to finance in-house production of efficient, so-called heterojunction (HJT) and tandem solar cells using Meyer Burger’s own technology, Sentis said, since the difficult solar market is currently preventing other module manufacturers from upgrading to the company’s technology.

“Meyer Burger would thus be able to protect its own technology and benefit directly from future improvements in efficiency and throughput of the equipment,” Anton Karl and Mark Kerekes, two Sentis board members, wrote in the statement.

“As Meyer Burger is currently not in a position to finance a production of at least 5 to 10 GW from its own funds, in our opinion this would have to be done through a capital increase.”

Meyer Burger, which in October announced job cuts and a massive revamp in a bid to end a string of six straight annual losses totaling more than 700 million Swiss francs ($705.01 million), also must gain new credibility by renewing its board of directors, Karl and Kerekes added.

Meyer Burger, whose products include equipment to cut and manufacture solar cells, did not immediately return a request for comment about the demands. ($1 = 0.9929 Swiss francs) (Reporting by John Miller; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

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