Solarworld to buy Bosch factory 'within days'

22. November 2013 | Industry & Suppliers, Investor news, Markets & Trends, Top News, Forum Solarpraxis | By:  Sandra Enkhardt and Max Hall

Rumors gain strength as Wall Street Journal reports it's almost a done deal. The Journal says Solarworld will purchase Bosch's Arnstadt production facility.

Solarworld CEO Frank Asbeck.

Frank Asbeck is reportedly about to purchase Bosch Solar's production facility in Arnstadt, preserving up to 1,600 solar jobs.

Rumors are growing Solarworld CEO Frank Asbeck's lengthy courtship of Bosch Solar's manufacturing plant in Arnstadt will be consumated 'within days.'

With delegates at the 14th Forum Solarpraxis in Berlin discussing the imminent move yesterday, the German edition of the Wall Street Journal ran a report last night stating the two parties have reached agreement on the essential points of a deal.

According to the report, Bonn-based Solarworld will purchase the Thuringian production facility for an undisclosed fee and will retain all of the 1,600 or so production staff whose futures have been in doubt since March, when global electronics giant Bosch announced its intent to exit solar.

According to the WSJ, the deal relates solely to the Arnstadt factory and does not include overseas sites of Stuttgart-headquartered Bosch's solar business or its 90% stake in module-making subsidiary Aleo Solar, which it is also seeking to offload.

No mention was made of the status of costly silicon supply deals which Bosch is committed to and which, according to Wirtschaftswoche, amount to 'hundreds of millions of euros' or to any requirement by the purchaser to repay grants for the establishment of the factory in Arnstadt, although the continued employment of staff may remove that concern.

Asbeck has been circling since September

Asbeck had announced his intent to purchase parts of Bosch's solar business in September, according to a report in the newspaper Wirtschaftwoche, despite a crippling debt pile which has forced Solarworld shareholders and creditors to accept a capital and debt restructuring proposal of the CEO and which is set to go ahead in the summer.

The only possible threat to Solarworld's acquisition is rumored interest from Emirati solar manufacturer and developer Microsol. The Fujairah-based company purchased insolvent Berlin manufacturer Solon last year but, barring an eleventh-hour bid, appears to have missed the boat with Bosch.

Neither company responded to pv magazine's request for a comment on the rumored deal.

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