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Bosch Buys Conergy Unit as Part of $2 Billion Solar Drive

Dec. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Robert Bosch GmbH, the world’s biggest car parts supplier that’s pursuing a 1.5 billion-euro ($2 billion) push into solar energy, bought Conergy AG’s Voltwerk Electronics GmbH unit.

The purchase marks Bosch’s entry into solar inverters, devices that connect electricity generated by panels to the transmission grid. Voltwerk generated sales of 68 million euros in 2010, Stuttgart-based Bosch said today in a statement, without giving the financial terms.

The deal puts Bosch into competition with established suppliers including Germany’s SMA Solar Technology AG and Power-One Inc. based in Camarillo, California. Suppliers of inverters struggled to keep up with orders in 2010 as demand rocketed. Subsidy cuts and falling prices weighed on companies this year and they’ve had to cope with lower margins.

“Conergy’s small-scale inverters performed well in tests and with Bosch’s entry, there are now much better possibilities to expand further into large-scale inverters that generate better margins,” Peter Wirtz, an analyst at WestLB AG, said by phone from Dusseldorf.

Bosch is building a 500 million-euro photovoltaic production plant in Malaysia that will employ 2,000 workers in what will be the company’s biggest non-German production site. The company in 2008 purchased Ersol Solar Energy AG and holds an 86 percent stake in Aleo Solar AG.

Conergy, once Germany’s largest solar company, last month posted a third-quarter loss bigger than its market value as prices and demand fell at home. The company will lose 100 jobs, idle production of wafers and cells and focus on the end-product modules, it said in September. It was taken over by creditors in July.

Shares of Conergy rose as much as 21 percent in Frankfurt trading today, their steepest intraday gain since Nov. 4.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stefan Nicola in Berlin at snicola2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net

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