April 18, 2018 / 4:06 PM / 4 months ago

SunPower heads off Trump tariffs with SolarWorld purchase

April 18 (Reuters) - SunPower Corp on Wednesday said it would buy U.S. panel maker SolarWorld Americas, dramatically expanding its domestic manufacturing as it seeks to stem the impact of Trump administration tariffs on solar imports.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The news sent SunPower’s shares up 12 percent on the Nasdaq, hitting their highest level since before President Donald Trump imposed 30 percent tariffs on imported solar panels in January.

SunPower is based in San Jose, California but most of its manufacturing is in the Philippines and Mexico. The company had lobbied heavily against the solar trade case brought last year by U.S. manufacturers, including SolarWorld, which said they could not compete with a flood of cheap imports.

Last month, SunPower asked the Trump administration to exempt a segment of its solar panel imports from new tariffs, saying that would benefit its plan to expand its U.S. panel manufacturing.

The SolarWorld facility in Hillsboro, Oregon, will be retrofitted to produce SunPower’s panels but will continue to make SolarWorld’s legacy products as well.

SolarWorld, which is a division of Germany’s SolarWorld AG , called the outcome “ideal” for its hundreds of employees in Hillsboro.

SunPower shares were up 92 cents, or 11 percent, at $9.23 in mid-day trade on the Nasdaq. The stock hit a high of $9.75 earlier in the session, its highest since late 2017. SunPower is majority owned by France’s Total SA. (Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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