Solar Frontier becomes a unit of Idemitsu


Japanese oil refiner Idemitsu Kosan has announced the completion of a merger with Japanese oil and gas group, Showa Shell Sekiyu. The companies have been working on the deal since mid-October. Showa Shell Sekiyu became a wholly owned subsidiary of Idemitsu effective April 1, 2019, the companies said in an official statement.

The transaction includes the acquisition of Showa Shell’s Solar Frontier unit, which specializes in the production of copper-indium-selenium (CIS) thin-film PV panels.

The transaction was conducted via a share exchange. Idemitsu Kosan offered its shares to shareholders of Showa Shell, while acquiring all of the issued shares of Showa Shell. In October, Reuters valued the transaction at about $5.6 billion. The preliminary merger deal was signed in July.

“In the solar panel business, the new integrated company will provide products leveraging its unique thin-film solar cell technologies and make efforts to develop a self-consumption model as distributed energy resources,” said Idemitsu in October, without specifying if the Solar Frontier brand would be maintained.

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Showa Shell's website was shut down after its shares were delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange. However, Solar Frontier's website is still online, although the company has yet to formally acknowledge the ownership change.

In late January, Solar Frontier set a new record for thin-film solar cell efficiency, at 23.35% — representing a 0.4% improvement on its earlier record of 22.9%, set in late 2017. The company recently said it will focus more on the residential PV segment, which in Japan is expected to see significant growth, due partly to the government's zero energy buildings (ZEB) and zero energy homes (ZEH) policies.

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