Sharp Pulls Out of Italy to End Overseas Solar Panel Production

Sharp Corp. is pulling out of its Italian solar venture, the Japanese company’s last overseas panel manufacturing plant, in a further reorganization of its solar business.

The Osaka-based company agreed to transfer its one-third stake in 3Sun Srl to partner Enel Green Power SpA, Sharp said in a statement today. 3Sun was established by Sharp, Enel Power Green and STMicroelectronics NV in 2010 to make thin-film solar panels.

STMicroelectronics has also agreed to sell its one third of the venture to Enel Green Power. That will leave the Italian company with full control of 3Sun, pending the approval of lenders and regulators if that’s required, according to a statement from Enel yesterday.

Enel will get Sharp’s share in 3Sun for “nearly free” in terms of payment, Miyuki Nakayama, a Sharp spokeswoman said by phone today, declining to give details. Sharp will continue to provide panel making technology to 3Sun, she said.

As part of its solar business reorganization, Sharp ended panel production at plants in the U.S. and U.K. earlier this year, Nakayama said. Sharp also announced earlier this month that it will give up its half share of a separate venture with Enel Green Power to develop solar projects.

“We will continue to sell products overseas and continue our EPC business,” said Nakayama, referring to engineering, procurement and construction of solar power stations. The company will also still make panels in Japan.

“Our business model is changing from just making and selling panels,” she said.

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