First Solar CEO to Meet With Brandenburg Leaders Over Plant Halt

First Solar Inc.’s plan to close a factory in eastern Germany with 1,200 employees has “surprised” the region’s government, which will meet with company executives today.

Brandenburg State Governor Matthias Platzeck and state Economy Minister Ralf Christoffers are due to meet First Solar Chairman Mike Ahearn and other executives after the company said yesterday it would shut its module plant in Frankfurt an der Oder in the fourth quarter, the government said in a statement.

The state government also formed a working group to “stabilize the industry location” of Frankfurt an der Oder, it said. First Solar, based in Tempe, Arizona, completed a 170 million-euro ($223 million) expansion there in November that doubled output capacity to about 560 megawatts of panels a year.

First Solar, the largest maker of thin-film panels, plans to cut 30 percent of its workforce as a slowdown in European demand counters expansion in Asia’s emerging markets. It cited reductions to solar subsidies in Germany and Italy for the move.

Four large German solar companies, including Q-Cells SE, once the world’s largest maker of solar cells, have filed for insolvency since December.

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