Total to make SunPower centrepiece of solar thrust

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SunPower will become the centrepiece of Total’s drive to become a leading player in the photovoltaics industry as the company received more shares offered than required to meet its desired 60% stake holding in the company. Total has accepted for payment 30,220,701 shares of Class A common stock and 25,220,000 shares of Class B common stock in SunPower at the purchase price of US$23.25 per share. In total, the oil company has paid approximately US$1.3 billion for control of SunPower.

“Today marks a new stride-forward for Total in the solar power industry,” said Philippe Boisseau, president, Total Gas & Power. “To ensure the long-term viability of solar energy, the marketplace requires global integrated industrial players that are financially stable and committed to advancing cutting-edge technology. By combining the strengths of both groups, we have created a remarkable asset: SunPower will be the centrepiece of the solar activities of Total.”

“Total's transformational investment in SunPower significantly strengthens our company, accelerates our success in a broader marketplace and enhances our R&D efforts, which are known for producing world record-breaking efficiency technology,” said Tom Werner, SunPower president and CEO. “By combining our complementary strengths, SunPower and Total will change the way the world is powered.”

However, it is still not clear how Total’s subsidiary, Tenesol will be integrated into the SunPower structure or whether there is a future role for Photovoltech, 50% owned by Total in the deal.

Tenesol has purchased solar cells from Photovoltech as well as from Motech in Taiwan, amongst others and has a stronghold in the BIPV market and off-grid sectors that SunPower has no market position.

It is also not clear whether Tenesol will be purchasing cells from SunPower in the future and therefore offer a premium product in the markets it already serves.

In regards to Photovoltech, it could be losing a customer for its solar cell’s should SunPower cells be used by Tenesol. However, Tenesol’s diverse markets served should continue to require a selection of modules, thus current suppliers are more likely to be used due to the narrow cell offering from SunPower. 

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