SolarWorld debt moves not expected to affect Hillsboro

SolarWorld AG officials believe the company’s sweeping debt restructuring proposal will have no direct effect on the company’s 700-employee Hillsboro operations.

Instead, Ben Santarris, a company spokesman, said the strategy “points the way to our continued financial stability” despite competitive pressures from China.

SolarWorld AG announced this morning it has reached a preliminary debt restructuring agreement with major creditors. Essentially, the deal would mean that 60 percent of the company’s debt would be swapped for a 95 percent share of the company. SolarWorld’s banks would become the company’s primary stakeholders while some analysts say that shareholders’ shares would be diluted by 95 percent.

Santarris’ China comments refer to “world industry competition that China’s central economic planning for its export markets has threatened to crush. We have upped our considerable investment in Hillsboro to re-assert our technology leadership. We have won trade remedies against China’s state-supported export aggression in the U.S. market.

“We are working hard to secure the same in the much bigger European market,” he added. “We are resolved for SolarWorld and solar-industry competition to flourish, even as China keeps pushing in the opposite direction.”

According to a February Portland Business Journal article, analysts believed that if the company failed to restructure its debt, it would stop operating. They also added that bondholders would be receptive to the move.

Philip Koecke, CFO of SolarWorld AG, told the paper in an email that an international business plan adviser had “validated” the company’s business model if it could restructure its debt.

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