First Solar’s board of directors advised that effective immediately, Rob Gillette was no longer serving as the company’s CEO. No specific details to the sudden announcement of Gillette’s departure were released, but the company did inform that former First Solar CEO, company founder and current chairman Mike Ahearn had stepped in as interim chief executive officer.
First Solar’s board has formed a search committee and is looking for a permanent replacement for the CEO position. Gillette joined the company as its CEO in October 2009 after working with Honeywell Aerospace. He took the place of Ahearn, who served as CEO of First Solar from August 2000 until September 2009 then moved on to work as the company’s executive chairman from October 2009 until December 2010.
According to Vishal Shah from Deutsche Bank’s equity research division, the announcement from First Solar may lead investors to question the health of the solar industry and even harbor uncertainty of the company’s profitability in both the near and long term outlooks. Shah also pointed to investors potentially concentrating more on competition from GE and Abound Solar in the CdTe field, coupled with the decline of polysilicon prices and a possible “risk of executing against cost and efficiency roadmaps” for First Solar in the future.