Solar Bankers interested in Bosch's German PV facility


German newspaper Thüringer Allgemeine has reported that U.S.-based Solar Bankers LLC is interested in taking over Bosch’s photovoltaic manufacturing facility in Arnstadt. The news was confirmed by a representative of IG Metall, located in Erfurt. Arizona-based Solar Bankers, which describes itself as a pioneer of next generation photovoltaic solutions, already has a German subsidiary in Dresden.

The newspaper report continued by stating that the interim results of the negotiations over the possible acquisition of Bosch’s solar shares should be available next month. Meanwhile, a final decision is expected this September.

On Friday, IG Metall announced further protests by Bosch’s solar employees at the Thüringer state parliament in Erfurt. Currently, production is being continued at the company’s photovoltaic manufacturing facility in Arnstadt; it should remain in place at least until a final decision is announced in September, Bosch assured Thüringer Economy Minister, Matthias Machnig.

As announced in March, by the end of 2013, Bosch will completely exit the crystalline photovoltaic business. Around 3,000 employees will be affected by the decision, most of which are based in Arnstadt.

Currently, the company is seeking a buyer for its Arnstadt manufacturing facility, and its around 90% stake in aleo solar. Bosch explained its reasons for the exit as such: "In recent months, Bosch thoroughly considered all options for its crystalline photovoltaics business. However, none of the options offered a long-term economically-viable perspective. A continuation of the business in the area of crystalline photovoltaics is not economic and, even a substantial risk."

At the start of April, Bosch confirmed that initial enquiries from prospective investors had been received. "We are examining all bids and prospects very thoroughly. The goal is to preserve as many jobs as possible and to find the best solution for the affected employees," a spokesperson told pv magazine at the time.

On April 19, SolarWorld CEO Frank Asbeck reportedly told Germany's Handelsblatt that his company is interested in taking over a part of Bosch's solar cell production unit.

According to the most recent figures, Bosch’s solar division lost €1 billion in 2012 alone.

Translated and edited by Becky Beetz.

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