SolarWorld CFO: Company 'committed' to survival
By Erik Siemers
SolarWorld CFO Phillipp Koecke says there is no proof that manufacturing in Hillsboro is a competitive disadvantage in the solar industry.
While analysts speculate about SolarWorld's uncertain fate, the company's CFO Phillipp Koecke is stalwart in defending the company's position.
Portland Business Journal Reporter Erik Siemers posed some questions to the Germany-based executive and received the following answers.
Erik Siemers: How confident is SolarWorld that its debtors will agree to a restructuring?
Philipp Koecke: As we have not yet started talking with debt-holders, it is too early to answer.
ES: If they don’t agree, what are the company’s options? Will it have enough capital to continue operations?
PK: We are committed and focused on this course. Therefore, we do not wish to discuss options outside it.
ES: Several analysts believe that a restructuring still doesn’t solve SolarWorld’s biggest challenges, that it manufactures a panel that isn’t demonstrably different from others yet at a much higher cost, thanks to the vertically integrated manufacturing model and the expense of manufacturing in the U.S. What is the company’s response to that line of thinking?
PK: We commissioned an international business-plan adviser to analyze our business. This organization generally validated our business plan, provided that we can restructure our debt. We're also undertaking other operational changes, which we have announced, and we have continued to invest to extend our world technology leadership and those innovations are coming to market now and over the next two quarters. In Hillsboro, we have invested more than $33 million just since August.
There is no proof whatsoever that our products cost more to manufacture. In fact, all data shows otherwise. The National Renewable Energy Laboratories has found it costs more to produce solar for the U.S. market in China than in the United States when shipping costs are included. The U.S. Department of Commerce has determined that Chinese producers have been illegally selling below their costs in the U.S. market to undermine foreign competitors. No global company can sustain such irrational conditions long term without addressing illegal trade practices.
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