German solar industry shakeout claims another company | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 21.03.2012
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German solar industry shakeout claims another company

Solar project developer Solarhybrid has filed for bankruptcy protection, reportedly as a result of failed funding for its solar power generation projects. The firm's CEO is being investigated for insider stock trading.

Solarhybrid didn't specify why exactly it had got into difficulties in its statement officially announcing the bankruptcy late on Tuesday.

However, dpa news agency wrote Wednesday that market analysts attribute the insolvency to a "lack of funding" for a series of major solar projects.

The firm specialized in ready-to-use solar power plants, but said earlier this month that its business model was "in jeopardy" after the German government announced it would stop public subsidies for big commercial solar projects.

Solarhybrid Chief Executive, Tom Schröder, said at the time that investment worth 10 million euros were "on the line," as was a corporate bond issuance by the firm aimed at "financing the takeover" of US solar projects, started by insolvent firm Solar Millennium.

After Solar Millennium and Solon, Solarhybrid, based in Brilon in central Germany, is the third German photovoltaic company to have gone bust within the past two years.

According to Frank Asbeck, the chief executive of rival Solarworld, most German firms in the solar industry were "struggling" due to "low-cost competition" from Asia, and general "overcapacity" in the solar market.

However, the German solar industry shakeout appears to be intensifying in view of the substantial cuts in state subsidies due to begin in July.

Legal aftermath

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Germany's financial markets supervisor BaFin said Wednesday it was investigating Solarhybrid Chief Executive Tom Schröder for insider trading.

The financial markets watchdog suspected a "breach of trading laws" in connecting with the sale of a huge number of Solarhybrid shares by Schröder on March 13.

Shares in the firm plunged by 40 percent on the news of Schröder's fire sale. Just one week later, the CEO announced that Solarhybrid was insolvent.

"If there is evidence of a violation of trading laws, we will hand over the case to public prosecutors," the spokesperson told Reuters news agency.

uhe / mll (dpa, Reuters)