November 26, 2013 / 11:05 AM / 5 years ago

SolarWorld buys solar plant from car parts maker Bosch

DUESSELDORF/FRANKFURT (Reuters) - SolarWorld SWVG.DE, once Germany’s top solar group, agreed to buy one of Bosch’s ROBG.UL solar panel plants, as the car parts supplier rids itself of a business that caused it to post billions of euros worth of losses.

Under the deal, SolarWorld will take over cell and module production capacity of a combined 900 megawatts (MW) from Bosch Solar Energy in German city of Arnstadt.

SolarWorld Chief Executive Frank Asbeck said the move would make his company the biggest solar producer outside China, whose solar cell makers have taken over the global solar market by offering cheaper modules than their European peers.

A glut of solar equipment has led to a pricing slump over the past four years, throwing many companies into crisis and leading some of them, including former heavyweights Q-Cells QCEG.UL, Solon SOOG.MU and Conergy CGYGk.DE, to file for insolvency.

Bosch said in March that it would end solar panel production early next year and put parts of the business up for sale after losing 2.4 billion euros ($3.23 billion) since creating the photovoltaics unit in 2008.

SolarWorld is in a major restructuring that could see Qatar take a 29-percent stake in the group to avert collapse.

The company, whose market value plunged from a 5.2 billion euros peak during the green energy boom in 2007 to about 83 million, said the deal would not reduce the financial resources of SolarWorld.

Reuters reported on November 6 that SolarWorld and Bosch were in talks about the plant in Arnstadt, with one source saying that the SolarWorld may even receive financial support from Bosch as part of the deal.

“The deal with Bosch has been agreed in such a way that will secure the operation of the cell and panel production in Arnstadt without harming our financial restructuring,” Asbeck said.

($1 = 0.7404 euros)

Reporting by Anneli Palmen, Arno Schuetze and Christoph Steitz; Editing by Maria Sheahan and Louise Heavens

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