After several tough years for the solar industry, when numerous companies either held massive debt (in China) or closed their doors (US/Europe), the industry is on the upswing again, and a Hong Kong entrepreneur is taking advantage of that.
Zheng Jianming, a real-estate tycoon based in Hong Kong, is quietly buying stakes in Chinese solar companies at fire sale prices, potentially piecing together one enormous company that would manufacture in China, reports Bloomberg.
So far, he’s committed $533 million for companies worth $20 billion at their peak: 21.6% of LDK Solar which, at its height was the world’s second largest solar cell maker, and 30% of Shunfeng, which is in the process of trying to buy Suntech, formerly the world’s largest solar manufacturer. Shareholders vote next week on the Suntech sale.
Both LDK and Suntech are in the process of liquidating. The NY Stock Exchange is delisting LDK, following the same action on Suntech months ago.
Merging Suntech with stakes in LDK and Shunfeng "represents one of the largest, if not the largest amount of solar module manufacturing capacity" controlled by an individual, Dexter Gauntlett, Senior Energy Research Analyst for Navigant, told Bloomberg. "I don’t want to say it’s unprecedented, but it’s definitely not the norm to take such a wide holding in three different companies."
Combining the three companies would create a vertically integrated mammoth that both makes solar panels and develops solar farms. While there currently aren’t plans to merge them, they are beginning to behave like sister companies, LDK’s Chief Financial Officer told Bloomberg.
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