Bosch Reviews Solar Future After $1.4 Billion of Charges, Losses

Robert Bosch GmbH is reviewing the future of its solar-panel business after the biggest car-parts maker posted $1.4 billion of charges and losses from the unit.

Bosch wrote down 600 million euros ($800 million) in assets at the division, which also reported a 2012 operating loss of about 450 million euros, it said today in an e-mailed statement.

“No final decision has been made for the strategic realignment,” Chief Executive Officer Volkmar Denner said late yesterday. The solar unit, which employs about 3,200 people, has been hurt by price declines of about 40 percent, he said.

Rising competition in the solar-energy industry cut panel prices in half last year, squeezing profit margins and tipping more than a dozen companies into bankruptcy including Q-Cells SE, once the world’s largest producer of power-generating cells.

Siemens AG said today it booked a 115 million-euro charge on a Spanish solar project. The company’s concentrated solar-energy unit was put up for sale in October, two years after it was founded by combining assets acquired in the industry including Archimede Solar Energy and Solel Solar Systems.

Bosch has spent almost 2 billion euros on solar operations since 2008, with acquisitions of Ersol Solar Energy AG, Bosch Solar CIS Tech GmbH and a majority stake in Aleo Solar AG.

The company, which invested in factories in Germany and France, hasn’t pushed forward with plans to build a 520 million-euro facility in Malaysia. There has been no activity since it bought a site early last year, Katrin Lauterbach, a spokeswoman for Bosch Solar Energy, said today by phone from Arnstadt.

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