China's Hanergy buys U.S. solar panel maker in technology push
HONG KONG, July 25 (Reuters) - China's Hanergy Holding Group Ltd said it had acquired U.S. firm Global Solar Energy Inc, its third overseas purchase of a solar company in the past year as it beefs up its solar panel production technology.
The deal follows its purchases last year of Silicon Valley start-up MiaSole and of Solibro, a unit of insolvent German solar group Q-Cells, and will allow Hanergy to "accelerate the development and large-scale application" of thin-film modules, Hanergy Chairman Li Hejun said in a statement on Thursday.
Global Solar, based in Tucson, Arizona, specialises in making solar cells with copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) technology. The thin-film products, which are lighter than traditional crystalline silicon modules, are applied in integrated and rooftop solar projects, electronic vehicles and portable solar products.
"Global Solar has run into some financial difficulties, and Hanergy bought it for its technology at a reasonable price," a source with knowledge of the matter said. The person declined to be identified because he was not authorised to comment to the media on the financial health of the target.
Li said Global Solar would continue operations in the United States.
China has become the world's largest solar panel maker and the dominant supplier to solar power industry. Hanergy, a private renewable energy producer, controls Hong Kong-listed Hanergy Solar and employs more than 8,000 people.
The competition from Chinese firms has forced some European and U.S. solar panel makers to go bust in the past few years.
The Global Solar deal is the latest rescue of a U.S. solar startup by a larger Asian industrial manufacturer. HelioVolt and Ascent Solar Technologies Inc have sold stakes to South Korean conglomerate SK Group and China's TFG Radiant Group, respectively.
MiaSole, which raised hundreds of millions of dollars as one of Silicon Valley's hottest cleantech startups, was sold to Hanergy for $30 million, a source familiar with the matter said in October 2012.
Both the United States and European Union accuse Chinese panel makers of receiving state subsidies and dumping their panels below costs, posing unfair competition.
Washington last year imposed anti-dumping duties on solar cells imported from China. The European Commission is taking similar action and will decide on Aug. 6 on whether to slap punitive tariffs on Chinese solar panels.
China announced this month that it aims to more than quadruple solar power generating capacity to 35 gigawatts by 2015 in an apparent bid to ease a massive glut in the domestic solar panel industry caused by a collapse in overseas demand.
Beijing also said it would promote the development of high-efficiency thin-film solar panels.
Such panels, analysts say, are less efficient in converting sunlight into power but are lighter and potentially cheaper than crystalline silicon modules, the core products of most Chinese solar panel makers such as LDK and Yingli.
Hanergy said it completed the acquisition of Global Solar after winning approvals from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States and China's National Development and Reform Commission.