BERLIN, June 18 – German solar panel manufacturer Solarworld announced Tuesday a capital injection by Qatar, a move which will save the company from bankruptcy as the German sector struggles against Asian competition.
Solarworld said in a stock exchange statement that it had agreed several measures with its biggest creditors, including the injection by Qatar Solar in return for a 29 percent stake in the troubled company.
Solarworld founder and chief Frank Asbeck will also end up with a 19.5 percent share in the restructuring, according to the statement.
Solar panels are at the heart of a current trade spat between China and the European Union, which accuses the Chinese of selling its imported solar panels below cost, a process known as ‘dumping’.
Solarworld’s spokesman Milan Nitzschke is president of a European federation, EU ProSun, which has fought for the EU to take action against China, and Brussels has now imposed provisional tariffs.
The investment by Qatar and the involvement of Asbeck, amounting together to a 46 million euro ($61 million) injection, in effect wipes out much of the company’s debt and inflicts major losses on the company’s current shareholders.
Faced with stiff competition, especially from Chinese solar panel and cell producers, the German sector, formerly the world leader in the technology, has seen several companies go bankrupt or be bought by foreign companies.
German industry flagship Q-Cells was purchased by South Korea’s Hanwha.
German engineering giant Siemens said Monday it would gradually stop its activities in solar energy where it currently employs some 280 people by 2014 after failing to find a buyer.
The oil rich emirate of Qatar has a number of stakes in different German companies including BTP Hochtief and auto maker Volkswagen.
Qatar announced Monday it was selling its 10 percent stake in German luxury carmaker Porsche but would keep its 17-percent share in that company’s owner VW.