More job cuts loom as SolarWorld seeks debt restructuring

A rooftop solar installation atop SolarWorld's Hillsboro manufacturing plant will generate 1,200 megawatt hours of renewable solar electricity a year.

SolarWorld has invested around $33 million in its Hillsboro factory in recent months, while it's work force over the same period has shrunk by nearly 90. 

SolarWorld AG CEO Frank Asbeck told reporters in Germany Friday that the solar panel manufacturer will need to cut more jobs as it enters into what could become lengthy discussions with creditors over debt restructuring.

"Talks could take weeks and months," Asbeck said in a Reuters report Friday morning.

The job cuts, which would follow 250 announced last year, are nothing new to the company's North American headquarters in Hillsboro.

A facility that once employed more than 1,000 ended 2012 with around 750 workers, said spokesman Ben Santarris.

The company initially laid off 37 in November, and since then cut another 50 jobs — half of them temporary workers — while continuing to shrink through attrition, Santarris said Friday.

Asbeck's statement follows an announcement Thursday that the company would seek to restructure its debt, with a particular focus on its bonds and bank loans. It would be the second restructuring by SolarWorld within the last few months. The company in July said it restructured 375 million euros worth of loan agreements with its lenders.

The company's shares fell more than 32 percent in Europe's Xetra exchange Friday, closing at 1.03 Euros ($1.38 U.S.). Meanwhile, its bonds due in 2017 fell 43 percent, according to a Bloomberg report.

Erkan Aycicek, an analyst in Germany with Landesbank Baden-Wuerttemberg, told Bloomberg that the steep decline of the bond price shows that the "market is pricing in a high probability that SolarWorld won't be able to continue its operating business."

Yet because the company is the flagship of Germany's solar panel industry, Aycicek said he expects creditors to be open to a debt restructuring. "If they decide against it, all their money is lost," he told Bloomberg.

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