August 31, 2012—South Korean conglomerate Hanwha has agreed to purchase German photovoltaics (PV) firm Q-Cells (Bitterfeld-Wolfen, Germany) for €40 million, saving 1,250 employees out of a headcount of 1,550 from bankruptcy and potential dissolution of the company. The “transferred restructuring process” will mainly affect the Q-Cells administration division where it overlaps with the structure of the Seoul-based Hanwha Group.
Q-Cells filed for insolvency on April 3, 2012, amidst a steep global market downturn for photovoltaics, particularly in Germany, where the company overextended growth as German feed-in tariffs tapered off and PV prices declined. As recently as 2008, Q-Cells was ranked the world’s largest PV cell manufacturer with 574 MW of production capacity and sales of €1.25 billion.
In the acquisition, inked August 29, Hanwha will take over Q-Cells German headquarters, solar-cell and -module production facilities in Germany with production capacity of 200 and 120 MW, respectively, a cell production facility in Malaysia (800 MW), and sales offices in the United States, Australia and Japan. The total cell production capacity acquired from this transaction is equivalent to 1 GW.
With this additional 1 GW of solar-cell production capacity added to Hanwha Solar’s existing volume of 1.3 GW, the transaction makes Hanwha the third largest solar-cell maker in the world, with an overall solar cell production capacity of 2.3 GW.