MiaSolé, the most technologically and commercially advanced VC-funded CIGS thin film firm, was just sold to China's Hanergy for $30 million, according to documents sent to MiaSolé shareholders this week, obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle

The remaining MiaSolé employees get to work at least another year. 

MiaSolé has raised in the neighborhood of $500 million in VC funding since its founding in 2004. The firm raised most of a $125 million round F in February last year at a pre-money valuation of $550 million. Investors included Voyageur Mutual Funds III, Kleiner Perkins, Firelake Capital, and VantagePoint Venture Partners. Board members include KP's John Doerr, Firelake's Marty Lagod, VantagePoint's Stephan Dolezalek, and Rob Chandra of Bessemer. The firm also closed on $55 million in convertible debt earlier this year.

We have communicated with a party with direct knowledge of the deal. Here are the highlights from that conversation.

  • "The bottom line is a $30,001,000 consideration from Hanergy to merge MiaSolé into Hanergy. The consideration would go first to secured creditors, and then noteholders."
  • "Series F, which has a liquidation preference over the other preferred series would get $1,000.00. This series had $106 million of investment so you might as well call it zero return."
  • "Series A through E get nothing. Common gets $0.00. The same for warrant and options."
  • Merle McClendon, CFO, is getting a $1.65 million retention bonus, John Carrington, CEO, is getting $3.6 million and Bob Baker, COO, is getting $300,000, according to the source.

 

The new owner of MiaSolé is Hanergy, one of China’s largest providers of renewable power. According to The Chronicle, the deal looks to close on Oct. 31, 2012, and the firm will operate as a subsidiary of Hanergy. There is a pledge that "no workers will be laid off in the twelve months following the deal’s close."

Curiously, Hanergy recently acquired another CIGS thin film firm: it purchased Solibro, the CIGS operations belonging to Germany's Q-Cells, in June. It's curious because there's not a lot of synergy between the deposition processes of the two firms. MJ Shiao of GTM Research's Solar Division points out that MiaSolé uses a roll-to-roll sputtering process, while Solibro uses a batch coevaporation process and that's "pretty much opposite ends of the spectrum, as far as CIGS deposition goes."

But Shiao adds, "Hanergy secured a $4 billion (RMB 30 billion) credit line from the China Development Bank last year to expand overseas (as well as build hydro and solar projects), which is helping to fund its Solibro and this acquisition. My instinct is that this acquisition is a play for Hanergy to pursue an aggressive Americas project development strategy. The backing of one of China's largest privately owned clean energy (i.e., hydro) IPPs with a $4 billion China-backed loan will do a lot to improve MiaSolé's bankability, which has been one of the company's main obstacles."

If there's a silver lining, it's that MiaSolé's technology lives on. 

Hanergy owns gigawatts of hydropower assets, wind and solar interests and has spoken of investing $15 billion into the solar industry, according to China Daily.

South Korea's Hanwha now owns Q.Cells, and China's Hanergy now owns the remains of Solibro and MiaSolé. CIGS vendor HelioVolt was rescued by Korea's SK Innovation. CIGS PV vendor AQT went out of business last month.

GTM Research has these estimates for CIGS solar production numbers in 2011:

 

The firm's VC investors have declined to comment.

Tags: firelake, john doerr, kleiner perkins, miasole, thin film