Suntech for Sale

Suntech Power, once the world's largest solar panel builder, is bankrupt (or the Chinese equivalent) and receiving bids for its main manufacturing unit, according to reports in the Financial Times. Suntech owes a total of $2.3 billion to a number of Chinese banks.

The bidders are:

  • Shunfeng Photovoltaic, an acquisitive solar cell maker, which looks to take an equity stake in Suntech's Wuxi facility along with restructuring the debt. Shunfeng is reportedly the preferred bidder.
  • GCL-Poly Energy partnered with the investment arm of Wuxi, Suntech’s home city.

Suntech currently has a market capitalization of $270 million and has not been selling internationally for the last year. Suntech CEO David King recently stepped down to be replaced by acting CFO Zhou Weiping. The two potential acquirers are not in the strongest financial shape, either.

Bank debt moving back into solar

We've covered in thorough detail the movement of capital to residential solar finance and installation over the last few years; here's a long list of recent funding. We've seen a trend (or perhaps a resurgence) of residential debt financing instead of leasing structures. Here are two more examples.

OneRoof Energy

OneRoof Energy is now offering both secured and unsecured loans for solar systems. OneRoof's new financial products include secured loans up to twenty years and unsecured loans with terms up to twelve years.  

Canadian Solar

Canadian Solar (CSIQ) just launched its Residential Financing Program targeting the U.S. residential solar market in partnership with privately held Admirals Bank. Customers can borrow up to $40,000 for a residential solar installation, subject to credit approval.

First Solar

First Solar (FSLR) is selling its Mesa, AZ operations & maintenance facility, once intended to house 250 megawatts of thin-film solar module manufacturing. The sale price is over $100 million in cash, according to the 8-K form filed with the SEC. The company expects to incur a $55 million to $60 million loss on the transaction, along with $5 million to $10 million in relocation costs for approximately 80 employees, while also lowering annual opex by $10 million.

According to a statement from First Solar:

The buyer will be identified at the close of the contract, which is expected within the next 40-60 days. We can confirm that the buyer will be conducting clean high-tech manufacturing at the facility. First Solar has negotiated an appropriate period of time to allow Mesa-based associates to relocate to our Tempe headquarters, and to move equipment being held at the site tostorageand other First Solar facilities. We are pleased that the Mesa facility will be utilized in a way that provides the community with full economic benefit.

The facility consists of land, a 1.3-million-square-foot building and certain fixtures and improvements, including a 3.3-megawatt AC rooftop PV array and a small ground-mounted PV test array.

SolarCity

SolarCity bought mounting hardware startup Zep Solar for $158 million this week and is also raising an offering to $125 million in convertible senior notes and 3.4 million shares of common stock. The company deployed 78 megawatts during the third quarter and restated its 2013 deployment guidance of 278 megawatts -- meaning it expects a record Q4 of more than 100 megawatts. The firm issued 2014 guidance of 475 megawatts to 525 megawatts, beating estimates soundly.  

CPV Lives -- in China

China's Suncore acquired the assets of Israel's Zenith Solar. Suncore is a concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) systems manufacturer. ZenithSolar's system provides electrical output from a PV array and also generates hot water at a temperature suitable for domestic and industrial applications. Suncore is owned by San’an Optoelectronics, the largest LED manufacturer in China. LED technology is in many ways similar to the multi-junction PV cells used in CPV.