China: Hefei government takes over LDK Solar subsidiary

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Just a day after LDK Solar defaulted on a $23 million convertible bond payment, the Chinese photovoltaic manufacturer announced the signing of an agreement between Anhui LDK New Energy Co., Ltd and the Hefei High Tech Industrial Development Social Service Corporation, under which all of the equity interest in LDK Solar High-Tech (Hefei) Co., Ltd will be transferred to the Hefei City government affiliate.

Overall, the Hefei High Tech Industrial Development Social Service Corporation will acquire the subsidiary for around US$19.4 million, meaning LDK Solar will realize a net loss of between $80 million to $90 million.

Originally, it was said in January that the Shanghai Qianjiang Group was expected to purchase the LDK solar subsidiary, which manufactures photovoltaic cells and modules. However, it failed to secure the relevant government approvals by the March 30 deadline. "We appreciate the assistance and collaboration from Hefei Municipal Government," stated Xingxue Tong, President and CEO of LDK Solar. "We will do our best to assure a smooth closing of this transaction."

The next Suntech?

Many believe LDK Solar, which has suffered a number of financial setbacks in recent months, is likely to become the second major Chinese solar player to declare bankruptcy. An industry analyst based in Europe told pv magazine that had the company not been Chinese, it would already be bankrupt. However, due to a number of bailouts, it has managed to stay afloat.

Regarding the $23 million convertible bond payment default on April 15, LDK Solar announced it had reached agreement with two holders of its convertible notes in the aggregate principal amount of $16.5 million. This represents less than 70% of the note holders. In Germany, a company would need a vote of at least 75% in order to legally default on a bond repayment, while in the U.S., it would need the agreement of all note holders.

Another analyst, from the U.S., said they were unsure what the $23 million default – a relatively small sum – means for the manufacturer, as the bonds were traded on the Shanghai stock exchange. Very possibly, they said, they are subject to change/exception based on China government’s intervening and interest.

According to Reuters, German-listed shares of the company fell about 26% on Tuesday morning, while its shares on the New York Stock Exchange were indicated to open down 10%. Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported that LDK Solar’s net debt is sitting at around $3.1 billion, and that it is facing another loan repayment of $240 million in June.

The company is scheduled to release its Q4 2012 financial results tomorrow, April 18.

Thai module delivery

In other LDK Solar news, the company has today announced it will deliver 63 MW of its photovoltaic modules to EA Solar Nakornsawan Co., Ltd for projects in Thailand. Under the contract, LDK will ship 6.3 MW of modules weekly, starting this August. The contract price was not disclosed.

"We are pleased to expand our customer base into Thailand through this new module sales agreement," stated Xingxue Tong, President and CEO of LDK Solar. "We believe this contract demonstrates the continued demand for our solar modules."