As Oil Hammers Solar Shares, Trina Goes on Hunt for AcquisitionsZijing Wu and Ehren Goossens
Solar companies are ripe for the picking by the world’s second-largest panel maker after plunging oil prices made them cheaper.
“Acquisition is a good way to expand quickly at low costs,” Trina Solar Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Gao Jifan said Friday in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos. “We are looking at various opportunities both domestically and abroad, including ones in North America.”
Shares of solar companies have slumped in the past seven months, dragged down by falling crude prices, Gao said, even though he sees no “rational” connection between them.
“It’s psychological and happened after the sudden slump in oil prices,” he said.
The Bloomberg Intelligence Global Large Solar Energy index of 21 companies has declined more than 40 percent since mid-June, as Brent crude, the global benchmark, fell more than 57 percent.
That’s creating a buying opportunity in solar, Gao said. He expects Trina to expand “significantly” in 2015 after growing its panel production capacity more than 35 percent last year to 3.8 gigawatts. The Changzhou, China-based company is the biggest panel maker after Yingli Green Energy Holding Co., based on 2013 shipments, the most recent annual data available.
One potential target may be Recurrent Energy, the San Francisco-based solar developer that Sharp Corp. bought in 2010 for $305 million. The Japanese electronics maker has been shopping the unit around since at least September, and hasn’t announced a buyer.
Cheap oil has “unfairly penalized” the solar industry and may lead to consolidation, Hanwha SolarOne Co. chief commercial officer Dong Kwan Kim, said in an interview Thursday in Davos.
Global solar installations will climb at least 22 percent this year to as much as 63.6 gigawatts, according to the London-based research company Bloomberg New Energy Finance.