In wind-down, bankrupt Suniva wants to abandon solar panels

(Reuters) - A U.S. solar company that convinced Washington to impose protective tariffs on cheap imports to help it survive is seeking bankruptcy court approval to abandon its inventory of solar panels as it winds down operations.

In a filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware late on Tuesday, Suniva Inc requested approval to abandon solar panels with a liquidation value that it says exceeds $6 million.

The filing follows news last week that Suniva’s biggest creditor, SQN Capital Management, won an auction of the solar company’s technology, licenses and manufacturing equipment.

In a news release, SQN said it was “on the verge of determining which partner will provide the best path to revitalizing the company and meeting the overwhelming demand for Suniva’s high-quality, high-efficiency products.”

Suniva roiled the solar industry by starting a battle over tariffs that a leading industry group, the Solar Energy Industries Association, said would drive up the cost of solar and lead to thousands of job losses.

Rather than using its tariff victory to reorganize, Suniva last month held an auction for many of its assets and is now seeking to abandon solar panels it had been storing in warehouses, according to the filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware.

Norcross, Georgia-based Suniva filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April 2017. Days later, it filed a request for tariff relief to help it compete against inexpensive solar panel imports.

In its court filing on Tuesday, Suniva said it no longer needs the solar modules for a reorganization and proposed that another creditor, Wanxiang America Corporation, take possession of them in exchange for its claims.

The company did not disclose how much it owes Wanxiang, but said it does not believe the value of its inventory exceeds that amount.

Suniva also requested that Wanxiang pick up some $689,000 of maintenance costs related to the solar modules, saying it held on to the inventory throughout its bankruptcy proceedings solely for Wanxiang’s benefit.

A hearing is scheduled for June 27.

Reporting by Tracy Rucinski in Chicago and Nichola Groom in Los Angeles; Editing by Matthew Lewis