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Business

Solarworld clears first hurdle in fight for survival

It's been a make-or-break week for Solarworld, the biggest German maker of solar modules. The debt-stricken company moved a step ahead in its attempt to make creditors and investors agree to a restructuring plan.

Creditors of 150-million-euro ($199-million) debenture bond on Monday approved Solarworld's large scale restructuring scheme, with the company struggling to wriggle out of massive debt and avoid corporate demise.

99.96 percent of the relevant votes were in favor of the plan, with a sufficient percentage of creditors participating at the meeting.

The highly indebted firm which had come under pressure from cheaper Asian competitors had been looking into debt-cutting measures to survive. Investors would have to forego 55 percent of their money in Solarworld and would receive freshly issued shares in return with no way of predicting their future value.

Eventful week

On August 6, the Bonn-based company will also have to secure approval from creditors of another debenture bond worth 400 million euros. In addition, it needs the backing from an extraordinary shareholder meeting on Wednesday.

Solarworld CEO Frank Asbeck on Monday appeared full of optimism to take all the hurdles ahead. "I'm 100 percent sure we'll be successful," he told German public broadcaster WDR. Asbeck has agreed to use 10 million euros from his private funds to help rescue the firm. A loan is also expected to come from a big investor from Qatar.

Solarworld has production facilities in Germany and the US and currently employs a remainder of 2,600 people.

hg/kms (dpa, Reuters)