Q-Cells moves to sell $860m stake in Norway’s REC

 Q Cells moves to sell $860m stake in Norways REC

Germany’s Q-Cells, the world’s largest maker of solar photovoltaic (PV) modules, is selling the 85 million shares it owns in Norwegian solar firm Renewable Energy Company (REC), as it looks to trim its debt and give itself a financial cushion for longer-term projects. 

The REC shares were worth $860m at the start of trading on 6 May, but their price slipped on the news.Q-Cells currently holds a 17.2% stake in REC, making it the second largest shareholder behind Norwegian industrial conglomerate Orkla, with its 40% holding. Norwegian utility Hafslund controls 14% of the company.

The money will be useful to Q-Cells, which in February dropped its sales guidance for 2009 for the second time, blaming weakening global demand for solar products. Q-Cells has said it intends to shift its focus away from small-scale installations and towards large-scale PV power plants, which require high levels of start-up capital.

Q-Cells says it using a variety of banks to help look for potential buyers for its REC shares, including Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, ABG Sundal Collier, Dresdner Kleinwort/Commerzbank and Unicredit Group.

REC will remain one of Q-Cells’ main suppliers of solar wafers in spite of the sale. The two companies are joint-venture partners in Sovello, together with Evergreen Solar.

Last week, Q-Cells announced that it would merge its thin-film division, Sontor, with competing firm Sunfilm, resulting in one of the world’s largest makers of thin-film modules.