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Energy Conversion Files for Bankruptcy, Seeks Sale of Assets

Energy Conversion Devices Inc., a U.S. solar manufacturer that suspended production last year, filed for bankruptcy with plans to sell its solar panel unit.

Its United Solar Ovonic unit will continue to operate during the sales process, Auburn Hills, Michigan-based Energy Conversion said today in a statement.

The company listed debt of $249.1 million and assets of $986.3 million as of Dec. 31 in Chapter 11 documents filed today in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Detroit.

“Our current capital structure and legacy costs are preventing USO from making the investments necessary for the future of the business with restructuring through the bankruptcy process,” Julie Hawkins, Energy Conversion’s chief executive officer, said in the statement.

The company joins LSP Energy LP, the owner of a natural-gas-fired power plant in Mississippi; Ener1 Inc., maker of lithium-ion batteries for plug-in electric cars; solar panel maker Solyndra LLC and energy storage company Beacon Power Corp. in bankruptcy.

Largest Bondholders

Energy Conversion’s largest bondholders include Sanders Morris Harris, with a claim of $112.3 million; Angelo Gordon & Co., with a claim of $54.5 million; and Diamondback Capital Management LLC, with a claim of $23.3 million, court papers show. The Chicago branch of Bank of New York Mellon Trust Co. is listed as indenture trustee for Energy Conversion’s bonds. The aggregate amount due under the bonds to all bondholders is $264.4 million, court papers show.

The company said its “operating and divestiture” plan is supported by holders of about 70 percent of the company’s $263.2 million in outstanding 3 percent convertible senior notes due in 2013.

Energy Conversion said it hired Quarton Partners LLC to manage the sale process of USO, which it expects to be completed in 90 days.

The case is In re Energy Conversion Devices Inc., 12-43166, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of Michigan (Detroit).

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