Ex-Im Bank Guarantees AMAT, Signet Solar Deal

The Export-Import Bank of the United States has approved an EUR 11 million loan guarantee to support the financing of $14 million in exports of solar-cell manufacturing tools and equipment by Applied Materials Inc. (Nasdaq: AMAT) of Santa Clara, California, to Signet Solar LLC of Dresden, Germany.

The Ex-Im Bank financing in U.S. dollars is $14.4 million under current exchange rates. Ex-Im Bank is providing a five-year facility guaranteeing a limited-recourse loan denominated in euros to Signet Solar LLC from the Bank of America in San Francisco, Calif. Ex-Im Bank’s five-year loan guarantee is also supporting $5.2 million in local costs for installation and construction that were financed under the loan.

The Applied Materials exports were used to design and construct the Signet Solar Project, a manufacturing facility in Dresden that was completed in late 2008 and produces amorphous thin-film silicon photovoltaic modules. The PV modules are used in end applications of Signet Solar’s customers in Germany, Italy and Spain.

“Ex-Im Bank is pleased to assist in financing these exports by Applied Materials Inc. to Germany, one of the world’s largest markets for solar-energy products. We want to help U.S. exporters in the solar industry take advantage of the opportunities in this market to sustain high-quality jobs in California and other states that are home to these innovative companies,” said Ex-Im Bank Vice Chair Linda Conlin, the chief advocate of Ex-Im Bank’s Environmental Exports Program on the Bank’s board of directors.

“This support from Ex-Im Bank comes at a time when the United States is looking to spur economic growth through the expansion of green-technology jobs like the ones in our solar business,” said George Davis, senior vice president and chief financial officer of Applied Materials. “Now more than ever, we need to look for export opportunities that expand the market for solar and green technology, and Ex-Im Bank is a valuable partner for American business.”

Limited-recourse project finance is an arrangement in which Ex-Im Bank assists in lending to newly created project companies and looks to the project’s future cash flows as the source of repayment instead of relying directly on foreign governments, financial institutions or established corporations. Signet Solar LLC, the project sponsor, was founded in 2006 to design and manufacture low-cost thin-film silicon PV modules for large-area applications.

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