Isovoltaic Said to Kick Off Sale for 45% in Solar Company

Isovoltaic AG, an Austrian solar developer, started the sale of a 45 percent stake as it seeks an alternative to last year’s failed initial public offering, according to a person with knowledge of the process.

The company has sent information to potential buyers and requested indicative offers in a month, said the person, who declined to be identified because the matter is confidential. The Lebring-based developer aims to complete the sale by the end of June, the person said.

Isovoltaic, which makes protective backing for solar panels, halted its 378 million-euro ($498 million) IPO in April as Europe’s debt crisis sapped investor demand. The company, owned by Austrian industrialist Stanislaus Turnauer, had been planning to sell a 45 percent stake in the offering.

Klaudia Schober, a spokeswoman for Isovoltaic, declined to comment. In January she acknowledged that a stake may be sold to outside investors and said talks were at a “very early stage.”

“Obvious acquirers would be Chinese firms,” said Jenny Chase, head of solar research at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. She cited China’s 12th Five-Year Plan, a program of social and economic-development initiatives that includes targets for saving energy and curbing greenhouse gases through 2015.

Chinese Suitors

The plan “calls for China to have more of the module value chain in China through partnerships with international firms,” Chase said by e-mail. “There are numerous Chinese companies making backsheets which might want to buy into an international brand.”

Isovoltaic supplies six of the 10 biggest solar-module makers, including China’s Suntech Power Holdings Co. and Trina Solar Ltd. The company had 120.7 million euros in sales in 2010, 68 percent of which were generated in Asia, its latest filings show. It had net income of 24.8 million euros that year.

Isovoltaic’s presence in China doesn’t mean it will sell a stake to a customer because such a deal could affect sales to competitors, Chase said.

Corporate solar acquisitions rose to $17.9 billion in 2011 from $13.1 billion a year earlier, according to data compiled by London-based New Energy Finance. The biggest deals of 2011 were China National Bluestar Group Co.’s acquisition of Norwegian silicon maker Elkem AS for $2 billion and French energy company Total SA’s takeover of California-based SunPower for $1.6 billion.

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