Abound Solar files to liquidate in bankruptcy

(Reuters) - Abound Solar filed for bankruptcy on Monday and will liquidate, becoming the latest U.S. solar panel company to fold despite government support.

Stiff competition from China and subsidy cuts in Europe have created a steep fall in panel prices, sending solar companies, including Solyndra LLC and Evergreen Solar Inc ESLRQ.PK, into bankruptcy protection.

Abound Solar, which filed for a Chapter 7 liquidation in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, had said last week that it planned to shut down and would lay off 125 employees.

The Loveland, Colorado-based maker of thin-film panels said it had taken about $70 million of a $400 million loan that had been guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The government, which guaranteed the seven-year loan in December 2010, froze payments in August 2011. The loan had been aimed at helping Abound increase manufacturing in Colorado and Indiana. Abound was also funded with $300 million in private investment, according to its website.

The DOE has been criticized by Republicans for a loan guarantee of more than $500 million to solar module maker Solyndra, which went bankrupt last year amid allegations the White House had pushed for the loans for political reasons.

In the statement last week, Abound said that it had been in discussions with buyers but was unable to come to an agreement and ended negotiations. Solyndra had also sought a buyer, but it is now being sold off piecemeal in bankruptcy as well.

Abound listed assets and liabilities between $100 million and $500 million each in the filing. Affiliates Abound Solar Manufacturing and Abound Solar Technology Holdings also filed for liquidation.

The case is In re: Abound Solar Inc, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware, No:12-11972.

Reporting by Caroline Humer in New York and Swetha Gopinath and Tanya Agrawal in Bangalore; Editing by Phil Berlowitz