Jul 9, 2013 - German firm Gehrlicher Solar AG on Friday filed for protection under the German bankruptcy laws, after it lost an EUR-85-million (USD 109m) two-year loan due to “deterioration of market conditions in Europe” and punitive duties.
In a statement on Tuesday the solar project developer and operator explained that the launch of anti-dumping duties on Chinese solar products affects hugely the European market and was the reason why the firm was no longer capable of meeting its business plan and thus lost the support of its lenders. Most specifically, the international banking consortium led by BayernLB that in May agreed to extend EUR 85 million to Gehrlicher Solar has now terminated the deal, leaving the firm with no other choice but to file for preliminary reorganisation proceedings at the District Court of Munich on July 5. Oliver Schartl from Munich-based lawfirm MHBK has been appointed as preliminary administrator.
Gehrlicher Solar pointed out that its US arm Gehrlicher Solar America Corp (GSAC) in not directly impacted by the situation. In fact the subsidiary is expanding and projects revenues of USD 130 million (EUR 101m) to USD 150 million for 2013. Affiliate Gehrlicher Solar Management GmbH (GSM), which manages some 25 solar investment entities, is also not directly concerned by the bankruptcy protection filing.
At its strongest year -- 2010, Gehrlicher Solar exceeded a headcount of 400 and booked global sales of nearly EUR 350 million, while remaining family owned. Now management board member and chief operating officer Richard von Hehn is calling on the European Union (EU) and China to solve their trade dispute on the political level before summer break. "Anti-dumping tariffs on modules do not help anyone, not even those who request them, because they destroy jobs throughout the whole PV value chain," Hehn said.
According to the company’s administrator, there is a reasonable chance that a large part of Gehrlicher’s operations have a “viable future”, Schartl said pointing to the firm’s good market reputation, technological know-how, 200 MW of operations and maintenance under contract and US operations.