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Siemens pulls plug on solar

June 17, 2013

German engineering giant Siemens has confirmed it is completely winding down its solar business. The firm said the purchase of Israeli company Solel had proven to be unprofitable amid fierce Asian competition.

Siemens logo on a facade of a company building Photo: Andreas Gebert/dpa +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

Plans to sell off its solar business had come to nothing, Siemens admitted Monday in confirming a report in the German newspaper "Handelsblatt". The company said the segment would be wound down completely by the spring of next year.

Siemens had tried for seven months to find a suitable investor, it said. There had been talks with potential buyers, but in the end, negotiations stalled.

"There was no sign of a transaction which would have taken into account the interests of clients, staff, investors and the company itself in an adequate way," Siemens said in a statement.

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Loss-making undertaking

The failure of talks will affect 280 employees, most of them in Israel. Siemens CEO Peter Löscher had decided to buy Israel's thermal solar installations firm Solel, expecting rapid growth in the sector. But the involvement ended in a disaster, costing Siemens about one billion euros ($1.3 billion).

The German firm said some small projects would still be completed, while service and maintenance contracts would be fully upheld.

As early as May, Siemens already halted its production of solar inverters. Also, it is no longer a contributor to the Desertec project, aiming to bring electricity from northern Africa to Europe.

Siemens is not the only German company for which the solar business has turned out to be a major headache. Numerous photovoltaics specialists are on the verge of bankruptcy because of competitors from Asia, especially China, which are being investigated by regulators for alleged price dumping policies.

hg/rc   (Reuters, AFP, dpa)