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RPT-Solar company Meyer Burger seeks 150 mln Sfr from shareholders
March 25, 2013 / 8:26 AM / in 5 years

RPT-Solar company Meyer Burger seeks 150 mln Sfr from shareholders

(Repeats to additional Reuters clients)

* Net loss of 116 mln Sfr vs 36 mln franc net profit yr-ago

* 2012 sales halve to 645 mln Sfr

* Says could break even with 2013 sales of 500 mln Sfr

* Shares up 3.7 pct this yr after 54 pct slide in 2012

* New shares underwritten, terms to be issued April 25

ZURICH, March 25 (Reuters) - Swiss solar equipment maker Meyer Burger said on Monday it would tap shareholders for 150 million Swiss francs ($159.5 million) after a slump in demand for solar cells pushed it to a full-year loss.

The maker of production equipment for solar cells made net loss of 116 million francs for 2012 after a profit of 36 million francs a year ago, in line with its guidance issued in November.

The loss provides more evidence of problems facing the solar industry, where companies in Europe and the United States have struggled with overcapacity, falling prices, low-cost Asian competition and cuts in government subsidies.

SolarWorld is talks with creditors on a restructuring plan and Bosch said last week it would sell or shut down its heavily loss-making solar energy operations.

The boom-and-bust fortunes of solar energy providers particularly in Germany is also evident at former heavyweight Conergy and at Q-Cells, which filed for insolvency last year.

Meyer Burger’s capital hike is meant as a stop-gap to replenish cash resources - which stood at 134.5 million francs at year-end - until cost-cutting and other measures take effect.

The company has shed 22 percent of its workforce since the start of 2012 as part of efforts to cut spending by 60 million francs annually from this year. It has taken out 30 million francs in loans to invest in its production and technology site in Thun, Switzerland.

It was cautiously optimistic for 2013, saying it expected a “significant” increase in orders, mostly in the second half. Due to a lag in how the company books revenue, pre-payments that customers are willing to make for this year’s orders will be key, the company said.

“Meyer Burger expects net sales in an amount of about 400 million Swiss francs for the current year 2013, whereby the larger part will be recorded during the second half of the year,” it said in a statement.

The company said it could break even on earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) if it could win sales of 500 million francs this year. In 2012, sales fell to 645 million francs from 1.315 billion year-ago.

A banking syndicate will underwrite all new shares, which will be offered to existing shareholders. Terms will be set April 25. Meyer Burger shares have risen 3.7 percent this year, after a 54 percent slide in 2012.

$1 = 0.9402 Swiss francs Reporting By Katharina Bart. Editing by Jane Merriman

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