A Chinese company has offered 4.34 billion kroner (US$640 million) to buy REC Solar ASA, headquartered in Norway, one of the last producers of solar panels still in Western hands, a move that might help the company circumvent trade disputes in the US and Europe.
The offer, by a unit of China National Chemical Corp (中國化工集團), follows a surge in demand for solar panels, which has absorbed much of the production that companies supported by the government in Beijing have built in the past decade.
Authorities in Brussels and Washington have imposed restrictions on Chinese solar panel imports after accusations from competitors that products were sold below cost. This has meant the Chinese companies that dominate the panel manufacturing industry have had to establish subsidiaries with factories abroad that are outside sanctions.
The deal was recommended by REC Solar’s board and has pledges from holders of 20.2 percent of the outstanding shares not to sell before a general meeting convened to approve the transaction, according to a statement released by the two companies in Oslo.
China National Chemical’s unit China National BlueStar Co (中國藍星集團) is set to complete the deal through a Norwegian unit, Elkem AS, which employs 2,100 and makes solar-grade silicon and other alloys.
REC Solar has 1,700 workers mainly making panels at a factory in Singapore. It was spun off in October last year from Renewable Energy Corp ASA, which had closed all its solar manufacturing capacity in Norway and focused on its solar polysilicon business, now known as REC Silicon ASA.
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