OptiSolar, which sold its project development business to First Solar, has found a buyer for its manufacturing know-how and production equipment.
Canada-based Allora Minerals, which plans to change its name to EPOD Solar as a result of a reverse merger, has signed a letter of intent to buy OptiSolar's intellectual property and manufacturing assets for $260 million, or $21.66 per share, Allora said.
OptiSolar had invested about $310 million into its R&D and factories, said Mike Matvieshen, CEO of Allora, in a statement.
EPOD Solar, founded in 2002, has been a project developer with a small manufacturing operation, according to the company's website. The acquisition would speed up its plan to become a larger producer of solar panels.
OptiSolar shut down production and laid off hundreds of employees earlier this year. The company wasn't able to raise the necessary money to continue its operations, which included both producing solar panels and developing solar power projects.
OptiSolar sold its project development business, which includes a 500-megawatt project in California, to Tempe, Ariz.-based First Solar for $400 million earlier this year. Sources said then that OptiSolar was looking to sell the manufacturing assets to a Canadian or Chinese company.
If the acquisition goes through, Allora would take over the lease for OptiSolar's 95,000-square-foot research and development center in Hayward. The center also would come with two production lines totaling 15 megawatts in capacity (for single-junction solar panels).
Allora said it also would take over OptiSolar's factory in Sacramento, Calif., a one million-square-foot leased space that has largely remained vacant. The space is enough to accommodate up to 800 megawatts of production lines for producing tandem-junction solar panels. A tandem-junction solar panel comes with two layers of semiconductors for converting sunlight into electricity: amorphous silicon and microcrystalline silicon.
Although Allora is based in Canada, having a U.S. manufacturing operation would help it sell into the U.S. market and access financial aide from the U.S. government.
Already, Allora said it intends to continue to pursue a $300 million loan guarantee that OptiSolar had submitted to the U.S. Department of Energy in February this year. OptiSolar had applied for the money for buying equipment and running its Sacramento factory.