It's official. Hanwha owns Q.Cells.
In a just-released statement, Q.Cells has reported:
At today’s creditor meeting in Dessau-Rosslau, the creditors of Q-Cells SE approved by a large majority the sale of the business operations to South Korean conglomerate Hanwha. Insolvency administrator Henning Schorisch had signed the contract last Sunday. As part of a “transferred restructuring process”, Hanwha Group takes over 1,250 employees out of a total headcount of roughly 1,550 as well as most parts of the total Q.CELLS Group: in Germany, this pertains to the site in Bitterfeld-Wolfen withsolarcell and solar module research, development and production as well as the administration site in Berlin; abroad, to the production site in Malaysia with an unchanged number of about 500 employees as well as some international sales companies. The integration will mainly lead to job cuts in Q.CELLS’ administration division, as there is considerable overlap with the organizational structure of the Hanwha Group.
The purchase price is composed of the takeover of operational liabilities in the lower triple-digit millions as well as a cash component in the mid double-digit millions, while the cash component depends on the volume of additional liabilities that will have to be taken over. The purchase agreement is still subject to the approval of the relevant anti-trust authorities.
Spain's Isofoton was an active bidder for insolvent solar manufacturer Q.Cells SE, as well.
Q.Cells SE was not so long ago Germany's -- and the globe's -- largest solar manufacturer. This year, teetering on the brink of of bankruptcy, the firm looked ready to join centrotherm, Soltecture, Odersun, Inventux, Solar Millennium, solarhybrid, and Sovello in the group of Germany's extremely troubled or shuttered PV firms.
The once-dominant Q.Cells SE had lost hundreds of millions of dollars in the last year and filed for preliminary insolvency proceedings in April.
The Hanwha acquisition move did not come as a big surprise.
A Bloomberg report in April quoted the insolvency administrator for Q-Cells SE saying that several parties had shown interest in the PV cell and module builder. Hanwha was rumored to be in due diligence in June. A more recent item in The Korea Herald quoted officials from Korea's Hanwha as saying the deal would happen soon, barring "extraordinary circumstances." It is reported that Hanwha would keep German production in operation.
Hanwha Chemical is already a force in solar -- enabled by its acquisition of the optimistically named SolarFun in 2010, now losing money like almost all solar manufacturers. Hanwha is also an investor in OneRoof Energy, a firm that builds and finances solar panels on a roof when the roof is being built or rebuilt. Hanwha Group is one of the largest conglomerates in Korea. Its chairman was jailed last week on charges of embezzlement.
Other recent Asian conglomerate takeovers or investments in American renewable energy firms include:
- SK Innovation's control of CIGS PV vendor HelioVolt
- TFG Radiant's takeover of flexible CIGS solar vendor Ascent Solar
- TSMC's alliance with CIGS thin film PV vendor Stion
- Wanxiang's takeover of lithium-ion battery maker A123 (Nasdaq: AONE)
- Q.Cells sold its CIGS thin film unit, Solibro, to China's Hanergy in June. That division shipped 66 megawatts of CIGS PV in 2011.
- CIGS PV vendor MiaSolé would appear to be searching for a similar type of suitor.