Meyer Burger Considering Cell /Module HJT Production

Having Made Peace With Its Largest Investor Sentis Capital, Meyer Burger Management Mulling Strategic Move To Either Set Up European Solar Cell & Module Fab Or Get Into More Profit Sharing Partnerships
04:27 AM (Beijing Time) - 16. March 2020

Finding its existing business model not sustainable in the long run, Meyer Burger is considering two strategic perspectives of either cooperating with trustable companies to enable them expand their production capacities on a profit sharing basis or set up its own large scale solar cell and module production capacity. (Source: Meyer Burger Technology AG)

Key Takeaways

  • Meyer Burger has shared more business transformation plans it has been considering to become more relevant and sustainable
  • It considers a partnership model for its HJT/Smart Wire technology or its own cell/module production
  • Current CEO to leave the company in the hands of current CTO Dr Gunter Erfurt who will take over the technology company as CEO in April
  • Incoming orders declined 24.3% in 2019 as the company suffered net loss of CHF -39.7 million
  • Management introduces part time work for its existing staff instead of employing them full time or opting for lay offs to compensate for the temporary decline in orders and to lead to a reduction in personnel costs

Meyer Burger Technology AG is evaluating the possibility to set up its own solar cell and module production fab in Europe, especially Germany, to tap the full potential of its heterojunction (HJT)/SmartWire Connection Technology. And this is one of the two possibilities the management of the Switzerland headquartered PV technology and production equipment supplier is exploring.

The second strategic perspective, as the company terms it, is to go in for a ‘partnership-based cooperation with trusted customers’ to build production capacities in the GW range and a profit sharing agreement, an arrangement it has been exploring as part of a MoU with REC Solar (see Meyer Burger Announces ‘Disruptive’ Business Model). However, Meyer Burger now said the execution of the MOU was delayed, but it “continues to work with REC on GW-scale expansion in Europe and/or Singapore.”

The company said it is examining strategic and financing options with various leading international banks.

Meyer Burger said it continues offering existing product solutions and services for standard PV applications “if profitability is favorable and IP ownership is respected” for its MAiA product family for PERC cells, CAiA for TOPCon cells, its WIS wafer inspection system and its Pasan cell and module testing solutions. In other words, as it fears that certain customers might copy its superior HJT/Smart Wire technology, it now tries to either partner – like with REC, or turn from an equipment supplier into a cell/module producer.

Peace with Sentis Capital

This update comes at a time when Meyer Burger management and the company’s largest shareholder Sentis Capital PPC have made peace and incorporate a member of the investor into the Board of Directors. “Meyer Burger has reached out to Sentis. Sentis stands behind Meyer Burger in a committed manner and sees great opportunities to create significant and sustainable company value thanks to the unique heterojunction/SmartWire technology,” said Anton Karl of Sentis Capital PPC.

2019 financials

Meyer Burger confirmed the preliminary financials for 2019 it shared in February 2020. Incoming orders in 2019 decreased by 24.3% and the book to bill ratio for the year was 0.72 compared to 0.80 for 2018. This brought down its overall business last year.

Net sales for the company were CHF 262 million ($280 million) in fiscal year 2019 compared to CHF 407 million ($435 million) in 2018 while EBITDA was CHF -13.5 million ($-14.45 million) compared to CHF 26.8 million ($28.68 million) in the previous year. Asia led by China was the largest region for net sales with a 72% share. The management reported a net loss of CHF -39.7 million ($-42 million) which is lower than CHF -59.4 million ($-63.57 million) it suffered a year back.

“In order to manage the current measures towards the focus on Meyer Burger’s core business, the Company has resolved to introduce short-time working at its Hohenstein-Ernstthal (Germany) site from 16 March 2020 onwards,” shared Meyer Burger management. “This measure is expected to help the Company to compensate for the temporary decline in orders and to lead to a reduction in personnel costs. By introducing short-time working instead of lay-offs, Meyer Burger retains its highly qualified and trained staff and thus secures its expertise within the Company.”

Meyer Burger also announced a management transition as Dr Gunter Erfurt was appointed as the company’s new CEO as of April (see Meyer Burger CEO to Retire AS CTO Assumes Charge)

Anu Bhambhani

Anu Bhambhani is the Senior News Editor of TaiyangNews

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Anu Bhambhani