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Q-Cells Open to Takeover Offer, Not Holding Talks, Chief Executive Says

Q-Cells SE (QCE), the German solar-cell manufacturer that’s fallen 56 percent in Frankfurt trading over the past year, is open to a takeover bid, Chief Executive Officer Nedim Cen said.

“If we find the right partner or the right partner finds us, I would not be opposed” to selling the company, Cen said today in an interview at a solar-power conference in Munich. He said the Thalheim-based company is not currently holding talks.

Q-Cells is among a group of European and U.S. solar-gear makers that have faced increased competition from Chinese competitors including JA Solar Holdings Co. and Suntech Power Holdings Co., the world’s largest makers of cells that are used in photovoltaic panels to convert sunlight into power.

The shares pared a 3.5 percent loss today to close little changed, down 0.2 percent to 1.69 euros. The stock is the fourth-worst performer in the last 12 months on the Bloomberg Global Leaders Solar Index, which rose 12 percent in the period.

Cen said he was neutral on the negative sentiment that investors are showing toward the stock.

“If people want to go long or want to go short, that’s what the capital markets are all about,” he said. For the photovoltaic-products market to be successful, “consolidation can be a means.”

About 51 percent of Q-Cells outstanding shares have been borrowed by investors for selling short, the most among the 37 members of the Bloomberg solar index, according to information from Data Explorers on Bloomberg. The index average is 12 percent. Investors sell borrowed stock in hopes of making a profit when they buy it back later at a lower price.

Cash Flow, Bonds

The German company reported a negative cash flow of 180 million euros ($262 million) in the first quarter, almost double the cash flow loss from the year-earlier period.

The CEO forecast in a May 12 conference call with analysts that cash flow will stabilize, then significantly increase toward the end of 2011, depending on how demand picks up for its products.

Cen declined to comment on how long the company can run on the cash at hand without borrowing more. The spread on the company’s 5.75 percent bonds has risen 733 basis points to 1,841 points over a comparable German benchmark government bond during the last month, according to Bloomberg data.

To contact the reporters on this story: Gelu Sulugiuc in Copenhagen at gsulugiuc@bloomberg.net; Todd White in Madrid at twhite2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Todd White at twhite2@bloomberg.net

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