Intersolar Europe: Suntech plotting European expansion

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With cards clasped closely to chest, Suntech CEO Eric Luo was unwilling to reveal specific details of the company’s planned acquisition of a number of European solar companies, but did confirm to pv magazine that an official announcement will be made at the end of July.

Speaking on the last day of the Intersolar Europe exhibition in Munich, Luo confirmed that Suntech’s European acquisition plans are an "ongoing process" and indicative of the company’s confidence in Europe’s perpetual strength and market stability.

"As the European PV market shrinks, so too does its pool of suppliers. But from Suntech’s perspective we see Europe as a strong distribution and replacement market, which is why we have plans to invest our equipment and technical knowledge in Europe over the next few years," Luo said.

Speaking of Suntech’s "continuing passion" to serve the European markets, Luo bullishly predicted that there will be no more than five global PV players operating in Europe within two to three years. "We are certain," he said, "that Suntech will be among that select group."

Although concrete details of Suntech’s expansion plans remain elusive despite three solid days of media appointments, Luo did reveal to pv magazine that the European company it has acquired has more than 60 local employees, and the CEO confirmed that Suntech is seeking to purchase "one or two" system integrators in Europe over the coming months.

U.S. trade case

Reports that Suntech is considering purchasing a solar cell and module factory outside of China in order to circumvent the stinging 35.21% anti-subsidy duties imposed against the Chinese company by the U.S. earlier this week were dismissed by Luo.

"This announcement by the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) has had no bearing on our decision to explore other production locations," Luo said.

Calling the duties "completely unfair", the CEO was nevertheless cool on the issue, claiming that Suntech had expected such a levy and had prepared its expansion plans well in advance of the announcement. Luo confirmed that the company will prepare an official response to the anti-subsidy imposition only once the DOC has issued its preliminary ruling on July 25.

Luo also spoke of Suntech’s plans to become a fully integrated clean power provider, revealing that the company is targeting between 10 and 16 GW in downstream projects globally by the end of 2016, and will seek to diversify its portfolio further with the acquisition of storage companies specializing in new storage technology.