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Q-Cells Slumps Most in Three Years on Wider Loss as CFO Quits

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Q-Cells SE, a German solar panel maker, plunged the most in almost three years in Frankfurt trading after posting a wider-than-expected loss in the third quarter and its chief financial officer quit.

Q-Cells fell as much as 26 percent, the steepest intraday drop since December 2008, after Chief Executive Officer Nedim Cen warned it may not be able to “repay in full” a 202 million-euro ($277 million) bond due at the end of February.

“Q-Cells has been struggling to maintain investors’ and customers’ faith in the company’s ability to survive,” Alla Gorelova, an analyst at Steubing AG in Frankfurt, said in a note to investors. “With the CFO going this will be more challenging.”

Along with peers including Solarworld AG and Conergy AG, Q-Cells has struggled this year amid falling demand in Germany, the world’s biggest solar market in 2010. Solar stocks are also under pressure from Chinese manufacturers that have boosted capacity even as international prices slumped.

Q-Cells was down 22 percent at 90 euro cents as of 11:12 a.m. local time. Solarworld, Germany’s largest solar panel maker, fell as much as 14 percent after reporting its first quarterly net loss in two years.

Q-Cells reported a loss before interest and tax of 47.3 million euros, more than twice the 21.4 million-euro loss forecast by analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Refinancing Issues

Marion Helmes resigned at her own request as CFO and will leave the company at the end of the day, the Thalheim, Germany-based company said.

Cen will take over the CFO role as well as retain his current duties as CEO to “personally and fully focus” on refinancing issues, he said on a conference call with reporters.

Last month, Q-Cells said the bond payment may be deferred until the end of next year.

Bondholders who met in Frankfurt in October voted to accept lawyer Carlos Mack as their representative. Mack was authorized to defer the maturity of the bond from Feb. 28 “if necessary and under certain circumstances, for a relevant period up to the end of 2012 at the latest,” Q-Cells said at the time.

The company’s recent orders prove that it’s trusted by clients, Cen said. The company is in “ongoing talks” to find a partner for its Solibro thin-film module division, the CEO said.

The company estimated it will have as much as 300 million euros in cash by the end of the year, Cen said, down from a previous forecast of 300 million to 350 million euros.

Cen said the company will revise its business plan by the end of November and then set out when it expects to make a profit again.

“The solar sector is experiencing a very difficult time dominated by pricing pressure and overcapacities,” Cen said. “This will also mean that we will become competitive more quickly and that will enable us to open new markets.”

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