More exec changes at First Solar: EVP John Gaffney to leave company Dec. 1

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Another First Solar executive will be departing the company soon, according to an 8-K report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. John Gaffney (pictured), the thin-film PV firm’s current executive VP/corporate secretary, will end his tenure as of Dec. 1. Former EVP John Carrington left the company in late August, shortly before Robert Gillette was named as new CEO.   

Gaffney has been in charge of First Solar’s sustainable development and environmental affairs, and has also headed its legal and corporate development departments.

The SEC document states that “Gaffney will receive certain compensation and benefits in accordance with the terms of his employment agreement, as well as an annual bonus for 2009, with the amount of such bonus to be determined consistent with the Company’s bonus program currently in effect for all employees.” 

The 8-K continues, noting that “Gaffney entered into a noncompetition and nonsolicitation agreement and a confidentiality and intellectual property agreement upon his employment, both of which shall continue to apply in accordance with their terms.”

The move will have an effect on the company’s earnings, as the document states.

“The aforementioned severance arrangements (which were not reflected in the guidance given on the company’s October 28, 2009 earnings call) will impact net income by approximately $6.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2009,” the 8-K concludes.

Reuters reports that “the departure resulted from recent organizational changes made by the company’s new chief executive Robert Gillette, First Solar spokesman Alan Bernheimer said.
Various members of the company’s executive staff will share Gaffney’s areas of responsibility.”

In a note commenting on Gaffney’s imminent departure, Pacific Crest’s Mark Bachman said that “First Solar is faced with an expanding geographic footprint for manufacturing and projects coupled with mounting pricing pressures that will bring increased competition for future business development. In the face of these challenges, departures from the management team will likely make success more difficult.”

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