SolarWorld shareholders approve rescue package

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Shareholders in the beleaguered German manufacturer SolarWorld have given the green light to a comprehensive restructuring of the company’s finances.

The debt-for-equity deal, approved by a 91% majority yesterday, will see Doha-based Qatar Solar acquire a 29% interest in SolarWorld and existing shareholders lose 95% of their stake in the company.

“Approval of our financial restructuring gives SolarWorld’s business a boost so we can continue to lead the solar industry in technology and quality,” said SolarWorld chairman and chief executive Frank Asbeck.

The central element of the rescue package is what SolarWorld described as a “considerable” cut in its debt, with around 55% of the company’s liabilities set to be converted into shares. To enable this to happen, SolarWorld’s shareholders had to agree to a capital reduction followed by an issuance of new shares with only 5% of existing shares safeguarded.

Besides the buy-in from Qatar Solar, Asbeck will acquire a personal 19.5% stake in the company.

“Our restructuring concept has been accepted by an overwhelming majority of all parties. Thanks to the decisions of noteholders and shareholders, SolarWorld will stand on a stable financial foundation again,” he said.

The green light to restructuring will allow SolarWorld to escape for now the fate of some of its German PV rivals, including Conergy, which is seeking investors after filing for insolvency.

SolarWorld has consistently blamed its difficulties on alleged dumping of underpriced modules from China into the European Union and was the lead instigator of the European Commission investigation that led to the imposition of punitive tariffs against Chinese PV manufacturers.

In its recent Q2 financial results, SolarWorld reported a slump in shipments of 233MW compared to 334MW in the same quarter last year, resulting in sales of €89 million (US$119 million), down from €112million (US$150 million) in the previous quarter.

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