Solarmax parent company to file for insolvency

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Sputnik Engineering, the parent company of Swiss inverter manufacturer Solarmax, will file for insolvency in Switzerland this week PV Tech has learned.

In a circular sent to customers and seen by PV Tech, the company said it had looked for alternatives but to no avail.

“The employees have been informed this morning and will stop working today until further notice,” it said in the statement.

The company is not the first European manufacturer to struggle as the domestic market declined and competition increased.

“Solarmax had been the fifth largest supplier in the world in 2008, with a market share of over 4%,” said Sam Wilkinson, research manager at market research firm, IHS. “Its market share has declined each year since, and it held a share of less than 1% in 2013.

“Solarmax had also made efforts at internationalising its business to offset the decline of Europe, by entering into the United States solar market in 2013. It had struggled to gain significant market share due to the intense competition from local manufacturers of string inverters such as Advanced Energy and Solectria, as well as numerous other European and Asian suppliers employing similar internationalisation strategy,” added Wilkinson.

Despite a recent focus on string inverters to compensate for the decline in the European utility market, the company has continued to struggle.

“IHS predicts that price pressure in Europe will continue, with average annual declines in the region of 5-10% each year for the coming five years,” said Wilkinson. “Therefore the exit of Solarmax, which has been a major player in the European market, will provide only limited relief to the incredibly tough competitive environment that suppliers focused on Europe continue to face.”

Sputnik Engineering refused to comment but did admit that the administrator, Weissberg Consulting, had now taken over management of the company.

Additional reporting by Monique Avila.

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