Official: Hanwha Group strikes deal to acquire Q-Cells

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Updated: After much media speculation that South Korean conglomerate Hanwha Group had been in negotiations to acquire PV manufacturer Q-Cells, a deal has been struck according to a brief statement issued late Sunday evening. However, the deal still requires the approval of creditors, which the insolvency administrator Henning Schorisch said would be sought at a meeting on August 29.

Minimal details about the deal were disclosed. However, Hanwha Group has agreed to assume Q-Cells debts which is said to be in the ‘low hundreds of millions of Euro'. However, as a result the actual sale price was said to only be in the ‘medium double-digit million Euro range'.

The insolvency administrator said that Hanwha Group had also agreed to take over ‘major parts’ of Q-Cells as part of the deal but without disclosing further details.

Q-Cells had filed for insolvency in early April, 2012 after failing to gain agreements on restructuring long-term loans from all parties, after a court ruling on another case meant all creditors had to agree to a restructuring.

Hanwha had previously acquired Chinese module manufacturer, Solarfun in August 2010 as part of a major move to become a top 5 global PV player. However, after a management shakeout at the renamed Hanwha SolarOne, the South Korean owners realised that the company lacked product differentiation and competitive high-performance products.

Coupled to the move by the vast majority of PV manufacturers to move downstream to become project developers, Q-Cells proved to be an attractive purchase as it had already successfully operated in the project business.

Should the insolvency administrator gained creditor support for the deal later this week, further details about the acquisition are expected to be announced.

Update 

A one-horse race for Q-Cells has potentially developed into a two-horse race with reports that a leading Spanish PV manufacturer and project developer, Isofoton has place an offer in front of the insolvency administrator for the company. This comes on the back of wide-spread knowledge that South Korean conglomerate, Hanwha Group had been at the forefront of negotiations, which were confirmed only days ago with a bid being accepted, pending creditors of Q-Cells being in agreement.

Adding to the intrigue is that reports suggest an unidentified US investor is collaborating with Isofoton on the possible deal.

It is not yet clear what motivated the Spanish firm to make a late bid or whether the deal between Q-Cells and Hanwha will be accepted by creditors, which are expected to meet on August 29. The deal struck Sunday is potentially binding should creditors accept the offer, excluding any move by Isofoton. 

However, it is unclear whether the late interjection by Isofoton could prompt creditors to request details of the new offer, potentially delaying or ending the takeover by Hanwha.

Q-Cells creditors had previously approved the sale of the company, in concept, via an M&A process as an alternative to Q-Cells restructuring its operations.

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