German solar-power company buys Shell US unit

2nd February 2006, Comments 0 comments

2 February 2006, BONN, GERMANY - SolarWorld AG, a German company that manufactures solar collecting cells and installs complete solar power generating systems, announced Thursday its takeover of a Shell solar unit in the United States.

2 February 2006

BONN, GERMANY - SolarWorld AG, a German company that manufactures solar collecting cells and installs complete solar power generating systems, announced Thursday its takeover of a Shell solar unit in the United States.

Stock markets, which have bid German solar-technology stocks sharply higher in recent months, welcomed the move.

Stock in SolarWorld traded 12 per cent higher at noon at 208.20 euros on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, after peaking at a record 218.00 euros earlier. Investors also bid up a rival German solar-cell maker, Q-Cells, by 3 per cent to 94.31 euros.

The purchase price for Shell's crystalline solar activities remains a secret, but Solarworld described the transaction as a "stroke of luck" for it and said it would have cost it 250 million euros to construct the same production capacity itself.

The German company is to acquire Shell locations in Vancouver, Washington state and Camarillo, California, as well as a plant in Gelsenkirchen, Germany which produces solar cells.

Sales units in Singapore and South Africa and a research and development team on silicon technology in Munich, Germany were included.

As a result, SolarWorld production capacity will increase by a solar cell volume rated at 80 megawatts, the Bonn company said.

SolarWorld said the move would make it the number one company in the United States.

Chief executive Frank Asbeck said, "We will be making 60 per cent of the annual solar-cell output of the United States."

SolarWorld will rise to third place worldwide after Sharp and BP in the solar industry, which is currently sustained by government subsidies in several nations for "green power". California has recently announced billions of dollars in subsidies in that state.

The industry has been hit in recent months by a world shortage of silicon, and the company said the new former Shell locations would operate at 50-per-cent capacity initially but ramp up to full capacity "by 2007/2008." The 575 Shell staff will be kept.

SolarWorld had 759 staff of its own as of the end of last year. Approval from competition authorities is required to complete the transaction.

DPA

Subject: German news

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