Reports: SolarWorld in survival talks with Qatar investor

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Struggling SolarWorld is rumoured to be in talks with a Qatar-based investor to rescue the company from possible bankruptcy.

Having already delayed reporting full 2012 financial results and recently warning of potential losses topping €550 million, SolarWorld was said to be looking at a rescue package that would result in the unidentified investor taking control of the company in a debt-to-equity swap, according to reports.

Ever since SolarWorld teamed with QSTec, a joint venture company formed between Qatar Solar – a wholly owned subsidiary of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development – and Qatar Development Bank to build a US$1 billion polysilicon plant in the Ras Laffan Industrial City, Qatar, there have been rumours that a takeover was possible.

Dow Jones Business News claims that several people close to the current negotiations disclosed that talks are ongoing.

Middle East countries such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia have ambitious plans to move energy generation away from fossil fuels to renewables and build a domestic PV industry supply chain that is competitive to compete in the global market.

Financially troubled European PV manufacturers have already been targeted as acquisitions, including Solon, which was purchased by Microsol of the UAE in March 2012.

According to the Dow Jones report, Solarworld creditors would be forced into a ‘haircut’ deal and push a portion debt into extended periods of payment.

Financial analysts have speculated that SolarWorld could require credit lines of around €200 million to maintain operations to avoid bankruptcy.

The company had previously said that it was in talks with current creditors to find a solution to its financial woes, delaying full-year financial reporting indefinitely.

Last week, Reuters reported that SolarWorld's CEO Frank Asbeck had said the company was interested in acquiring the solar cell production assets of Bosch, which had recently announced it would exit the PV industry.

With renewed rumours of a Qatar-based investor, bulking up its manufacturing operations to scales comparable to some of its China-based rivals makes more sense than when first declared, due to SolarWorld’s current predicament.

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