Germany’s Q-Cells to file for bankruptcy

Solar panel manufacturer Q-Cells has become the latest German solar panel manufacturer to fail, after spiralling debts and a slump in prices forced the company to file for insolvency proceedings.

Q-Cells’ executive board said on Monday that it had abandoned efforts to keep the company going in its current form, as plans to force its bondholders to accept an equity swap in place of payment had fallen through.

The move to take the Q-Cells to insolvency comes just a week after the Bitterfeld-Wolfen-based company said it had made “significant process” in arranging the financial restructuring which the board hoped would save the company.

Q-Cells, which had debts in excess of €431 million (£358 million) at the end of 2011, was waiting on the outcome of a court case against a building materials company Pfleiderer, which was also seeking to settle its liabilities this way.

However last week a Frankfurt court ruled that Pfleiderer was not legally entitled to force all its creditors to accept an equity swap without unanimous agreement from the bondholders – effectively scuppering Q-Cells’ plans to pave its way out of debt.

The executive board said in a statement that it had carried out an “intensive review of alternative concepts for the implementation of the financial restructuring,” but had “reached the conclusion that a going concern of the company cannot be restored on a sufficiently secure legal basis.”

“Therefore the filing for insolvency proceedings is legally necessary,” it said, adding that it was working to secure a takeover for the company. However, although Q Cells has reportedly been open to a takeover for some time, finding a buyer could prove difficult.

Q Cells posted an annual loss of €846 million for 2011, despite amassing sales in excess of €1 billion. The company said the loss was largely down to “the unexpectedly difficult economic environment”, as well as extraordinary items.

The company is the latest of Germany’s solar panel manufacturers to hit difficult times, following the failure of Solarhybrid, Solon and Solar Millenium in recent months. The industry has been badly affected by falling prices, and the decision by the German government to slash feed-in tariff rates, leading to fears that Germany’s previously burgeoning solar manufacturing industry could be wiped out.

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Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Policy, investment and markets  •  Solar electricity