REC shareholders greenlight sale to Elkem Group

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As the global PV manufacturing landscape matures into its next capacity-adding phase, REC Solar shareholders have cleared the way for the company to be sold to compatriot Elkem Group. The move is likely to provide REC with the sure financial footing and access to capital needed to compete with its large Chinese c-Si rivals.

Bluestar Elkem will pay NOK4,340 million (US$565 million) to acquire all assets and assume all liabilities of REC Solar.

Norway’s Elkem itself was acquired China National Bluestar in 2011. The company itself is the result of a JV between the ChemChina and Blackstone conglomerates.

Management from both Elkem and REC have committed to make module quality a key pillar of the company’s strategy in the future. REC attributes its strong quality record in part on its fully automated production facilities in Singapore.

“We believe that a combination with the Elkem Group will provide a strong platform to further develop REC, with added strengths and new opportunities,” said REC CEO Martin Cooper. As a silicon supplier, Elkem Group has significant history with REC.

“The Elkem Group and REC have developed a strong business relationship and there is a good strategic match between the companies, as both have a Norwegian corporate culture and heritage,” said Elkem CEO Helge Asen. Elkem has production facilities in 14 locations across five continents. In 2013 its operating revenues totaled NOK 7.9 billion ($1.03 billion). It produces solar-grade silicon as a part of its portfolio offering.

When speaking to pv magazine in November 2014, when the news of REC’s sale to Elkem was first announced, IHS analyst Stefan de Haan said that being a part of Elkem would leave REC in a financially strong position.

“Cost pressure is tough, and the next huge expansion projects involving significant investments are already under way,” said de Haan. “Bluestar could be the strategic partner required for REC Solar to compete against other leading manufacturers in that environment.”