Q-Cells becomes mainstream module manufacturer via 200MW plant run by Flextronics in Malaysia

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The first news from Q-Cells since the departure of co-founder and CEO Anton Milner in early March highlights the business model transformation now taking place at the former crystalline solar cell manufacturing leader. The company has begun c-Si module production via a 200MW plant run by Flextronics in Malaysia. The first module was produced in mid-March, and Q-Cells says it will start marketing the modules in April to wholesalers and large installation service providers under the ‘Q Base’ brand, which was previously used exclusively for its Q-Cells International large-scale PV project developments. The move means Q-Cells will enter commercial and industrial markets between 500kW and 5MW.

Q-Cells also gave revenue guidance for 2010 that highlights the impact on sales growth expected from the move into large-scale module production. The company said it expects module sales to be between 100 to 150MW in 2010. Sales in the newly installed PV systems business, related to QCI’s project business, are set to reach volumes between 150MW and 200MW, helping to contribute to revenue of between €1.0 billion and €1.2 billion in 2010. In 2009, sales reached €802 million, down from €1,251 million in 2008 with losses of €1,356 million.

“In the next few years, the market for photovoltaics will experience not only strong growth but also overcapacities and margin pressure,” commented Nedim Cen, CEO and CFO of Q-Cells SE. “We can be very successful in such a market, given our strong brand and the high quality of our products. However, in order to achieve this, Q-Cells must have more flexible and cost-efficient manufacturing capacity at its disposal while focusing on the expansion of the product portfolio and market access. The partnership with Flextronics is a first important milestone. However, we need to continue to build on that if we are to keep up with the strong international competition.”

Q-Cells said it was also holding back on capital investments to preserve cash and improve its balance sheet in 2010. Restructuring of the company is under way to better align with its new business model via a streamlining of the technology portfolio.

Sales activities were also reorganised over the last few months. Sales offices have now been established in France, Italy, and North America. More offices are planned in other regions and countries.

The company reiterated that both Sunfilm and Flexcell were currently negotiating alternative financing structures with their principal banks, while Calyxo is searching for new financing partners.

Sovello has now been sold for an undisclosed sum to Ventizz Capital Fund IV. The deal is due for completion in April.

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