Debt-laden SolarWorld 'close to Qatar investment'

German solar company seeks financial backing in effort to get back on its feet
By Reuters
Fri 03 May 2013 11:08 AM

Debt-laden SolarWorld is close to securing financial backing from a Qatari investor, its chief executive has said, the second major move in a week in its efforts to get back on its feet.

"We will publish the size of the potential stake at the extraordinary general meeting," Frank Asbeck, nicknamed the "sun king" by solar industry media, told Reuters on Thursday, declining to name the investor.

One source familiar with the process said that Qatar Solar Technologies (QSTec), a previous joint venture between SolarWorld and the Qatar Foundation, was willing to take a minority stake in what was once Germany's largest solar company.

SolarWorld holds 29 percent of QSTec, and the Qatar Foundation 70 percent. The remaining 1 percent is owned by the Qatar Development Bank.

QSTec was not immediately available for comment.

Earlier this week, SolarWorld said it reached a preliminary deal on restructuring its 1.2 billion euros ($1.6 billion) debt load, including a debt-to-equity swap that would hand its creditors most of the ailing solar group.

According to Thomson Reuters data, some of SolarWorld's biggest bondholders in the company include GFC Advisers LLC, Do Investment AG and Pioneer Investment Management Ltd.

Solar companies have suffered from massive overcapacity of cells and modules, driving many sector players out of the market or into the arms of foreign buyers.

Last year, Q-Cells, once the world's top maker of solar cells, was bought up by South Korea's Hanwha, while Solon was acquired by United Arab Emirates-based Microsol.

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