Avancis sells off solar business to Chinese group CNBM

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Chinese manufacturer China National Building Materials Group Corporation (CNBM) has bought the core business of Germany-based thin film and CIS producer, Avancis.

Under the deal, the Chinese company will seek to restart production in the German city of Torgau, maintaining the Avancis name. The company will also seek to maintain the research facilities in Munich.

Franz Karg, CTO of Anancis, said, "I am delighted that with CNBM International Corporation we have found a strong investor who will help us to further advance our CIS technology with its promising future. Together with the recently achieved new efficiency world record for encapsulated thin-film modules, this is another important milestone for the successful growth of our company.”

CNBM said that the purchase was part of efforts to expand development and production of solar modules as part of its expansion plans across Asia and Europe.

The acquisition by CNBM comes following a troubled time for the German manufacturer. A year ago, Avancis announced that it was to close one of its manufacturing centres as part of a restructuring. 67 temporary employees did not have their contracts renewed as a result and an announcement was made that the research centre in Munich would also be moved to Torgau. A few weeks after that announcement, the company revealed that it had entered negotiations to shut down a second plant in Torgau, which would have resulted in the loss of 220 jobs. By September last year, the manufacturer had ceased production of its solar modules entirely. With parent company Saint Gobain having closed down Solarkauf in March, the sale of Avancis marks a further step in exiting the photovoltaic business.

The sale is expected to be completed following the granting of necessary approvals. Detailed information on the purchase price, time-frame, or the permits needed to restart production were not made available.

A spokesperson for Avancis revealed to pv magazine that the timetable for restarted production will be set once all the necessary purchase permits are in place. It is understood that various Chinese authorities are still to approve the purchase, although at this stage final approval is thought to be a formality.

Avancis was unwilling to reveal to pv magazine the actual purchase price of the deal, but did state in its press release that all 240 employees will be given the opportunity to retain their jobs under CNBM ownership, and that warranties for Avancis products will remain unchanged.