Solarworld Investors Approve Restructuring to Save Panel Maker

Solarworld AG shareholders backed restructuring proposals that will see them lose 95 percent of their holdings as part of a last-ditch effort to save Germany’s biggest solar-panel maker.

More than 99 percent of shareholders voted in favor of the plan for debt and capital reductions at an extraordinary general meeting in Bonn, spokesman Milan Nitzschke said in a text message today. Holders of two corporate bonds due July 2016 and January 2017 backed the restructuring earlier this week.

Solarworld, which in 2009 had the world’s second-biggest solar wafer production capacity behind LDK Solar Co., has slumped to ninth place, overtaken by competitors from China that cut prices about 20 percent last year as they increased output, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Its revenue fell by more than 50 percent to 606 million euros ($808 million) last year from 1.3 billion euros at their peak in 2010.

More than a dozen German firms including Solar Millennium AG and Q-Cells SE, once the world’s largest cell maker, have filed for insolvency in the past two years amid below-cost sales by Chinese peers, a practice known as dumping. The European Commission on Aug. 3 approved a plan for curbs on Chinese solar panels in an effort to stabilize the European market, which is 80 percent-controlled by Chinese companies.

Qatar Solar S.P.C. is seeking 29 percent of Bonn-based Solarworld through a purchase of new shares after the current share capital is reduced by a ratio of 150:1, Solarworld said in June. Bondholders would receive proceeds from the Qatari deal and a separate purchase of shares by Chief Executive Officer Frank Asbeck.

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