Recently rebranded GT Advanced Technologies (GTAT – formerly GT Solar) has bought privately-held Confluence Solar in a US$80 million all-cash transaction. Confluence Solar was developer of a process known as HiCz, a continuously-fed Czochralski (CCz) growth technology that is said to enable production of high-efficiency monocrystalline solar ingots.

This adds to GTAT’s existing product portfolio, and will see the company aim to develop its capabilities to become a major equipment supplier to the CCz monocrystalline market. It recently announced the impending launch of its MonoCast growth technology, said to improve material quality produced in its directional solidification process.

GTAT paid US$60 million to Confluence Solar’s shareholders, to be followed up by an additional US$20 million of cash earn-outs, which will be paid when certain financial and technical stipulations have been met in GTAT’s fiscal year 2013. Investors in Confluence Solar include Convexa Capital, OCI and Oceanshore Investors.

The acquisition includes various incremental R&D and capital investments that will aid in the commercialization of GTAT’s planned CCz products, and is expected to become accretive in the second half of FY13. Having accounted financially for a range of organic developments throughout 2012 and 2013, rendered unnecessary in the light of this acquisition, GTAT expects that the Confluence purchase will add even more financial benefit to the company’s balance sheet in fiscal 2013.

“This acquisition adds an innovative technology to GT’s PV product portfolio that is well aligned with our strategy to rapidly innovate and develop next-generation crystal growth solutions,” said Tom Gutierrez, GT Advanced Technologies president and CEO. “PV manufacturers are focusing more closely on increasing cell efficiency as a way to lower the cost of solar energy. Confluence’s HiCz technology is expected to drive down the cost of monocrystalline wafers below traditional Czochralski methods… our primary goal is to become a major equipment supplier to the CCz monocrystalline market by commercializing the technology that we have acquired. We expect to launch a commercial CCz mono equipment offering in our fiscal year 2013.”