Applied Materials acquires Italian solar cell equipment company for $330 million

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Family run and privately held Baccini S.p.A, a specialist equipment manufacturer in the field of crystalline silicon (c-Si) photovoltaic (PV) cells, has been acquired by Applied Materials for $330 million in cash. Baccini was founded in 1967 and is regarded as an innovator in automated material handling, especially in respect to ultra-thin solar wafers. The transaction is expected to close in early 2008, according to the companies.

“With this acquisition, Applied will become a leading provider of c-Si cell manufacturing solutions to the PV industry,” said Mike Splinter, President and CEO of Applied Materials. “As a key supplier to both the c-Si and thin film solar markets, we are committed to driving down the cost and ramping up the scale of PV manufacturing to make solar energy competitive with grid electricity. We are especially excited by the opportunity to engage in key efforts to meet this challenge in Italy – a country with strong geographic potential for realizing early grid parity.”

“Baccini and Applied share an enterprising spirit and both have a 40-year history of delivering innovative, highly-efficient and productive products,” said Mr. Baccini. “The integration of Baccini’s technology with Applied’s process, production and manufacturing expertise will provide new capabilities to enable world-class solar solutions for our global customers.”

Applied Materials has made several recent acquisitions in the solar cell area focused on providing technologies that enable the use and processing of wafers less than 120 micrometers thick in an effort to significantly reduce the cost per watt of solar cells as polysilicon remains in short supply and average prices have been increasing steadily. Approximately 60 percent of the total cost of producing a solar cell is the silicon wafer, according to Applied Materials.

The acquisition of Baccini takes Applied Materials’ solar acquisition investments above the $1 billion level.

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