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Bidders vie for Germany's Q-Cells

The insolvent German manufacturer of solar cells, Q-Cells, had reached a deal for it to be taken over by the South Korean Hanwha Group. But now a Spanish bidder has joined the race for the ailing panel producer.

Monday saw a second bidder joining the race for the takeover of insolvent solar panel maker Q-Cells of Germany. The Spanish solar company Isofoton also voiced its interest in the stricken German firm. A spokesman for Isofoton said the Madrid-based company had made its bid during a meeting of its president with Q-Cells in Frankfurt. No details were given about the suggested takeover price.

According to a statement released by the German company on Sunday, Q-Cells' insolvency administrators and Hanwha had already signed a preliminary contract with the South Korean Hanwa Group. Which of the two bidders will eventually make the running will only become clear at a creditors' meeting on August 29.

Q-Cells, which is based in Bitterfeld-Wolfen in the eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt, was once the world's largest maker of solar cells. It said Hanwha would take on liabilities valued in "the low hundreds of millions" and pay a "medium double-digit million-euro range" in cash.

Q-Cells employs about 2,300 people. After going public in 2005, the company went on to become the world's largest maker of solar cells. It lost that title in 2009, suffering from low-cost competition from Asia, pricing pressure and excess supply of solar cells in the market.

In June, Q-Cells sold its thin-film solar module maker Solibro to China's largest privately-owned provider of renewable energy, Hanergy Holding Group.

Shares in the Q-Cells were worth almost 84 euros ($110 dollars) at their peak in late 2007. They closed at 0.17 euros in Friday trading.

jm,hg/pfd (Reuters, dpa)