Anti-dumping tariffs on PV-modules: Banks call loans with solar pioneer Gehrlicher Solar AG due to the changes in market conditions

Pioneering German photovoltaic company Gehrlicher Solar AG files for protection under the German bankruptcy laws. Its subsidiaries, in particular the successful, growing US subsidiary Gehrlicher Solar America Corporation, are not directly affected by this filing.

Gehrlicher Solar AG (GSAG), one of the oldest companies in the solar industry, filed for preliminary reorganization proceedings at the District Court of Munich on July, 5th. The court appointed Oliver Schartl from the Munich based lawfirm Müller-Heydenreich Beutler & Kollegen as preliminary administrator.

The filing was an immediate and direct response to the announcement by the banking consortium to terminate the EUR 85 million loan. With the EU-wide introduction of anti-dumping tariffs on Chinese modules and the resulting deterioration of market conditions in Europe, the company is no longer able to fulfill its business plan upon which the 2-year loan agreement extension had been signed just three months ago.

The independent subsidiaries of Gehrlicher Solar AG, particularly Gehrlicher Solar America Corporation (GSAC), are not directly affected by the parent’s filing. GSAC continues to grow rapidly and is forecasting 2013 revenues between 130 and 150 million USD. Also not affected by the filing are Gehrlicher Solar Management GmbH (GSM), an independent sister company of Gehrlicher Solar AG, whose principal activity is the management of approx. 25 solar investment entities, and other companies of the Gehrlicher Group.

"We have been working for the energy revolution since 1994, long before the term came into fashion, because we have always believed in the potential of photovoltaics" explains founder, owner and CEO Klaus Gehrlicher. "Even though I am personally very much disappointed, we are proud that, together with other pioneers of the solar industry, we have the privilege to be one of the ‘trailblazers’ of affordable solar energy around the world."

The Gehrlicher Group has grown from a one-man company to become one of the world's largest project developers and system integrators in the photovoltaic industry. At its peak, the group had over 400 employees and achieved global sales of nearly 350 million euros (2010), remaining family owned.

Management Board Member and COO, Richard von Hehn, urges politicians to act quickly in the trade dispute with China. "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," says von Hehn. "Federal Government and the European 2 Commission must take action and solve the issue at the political level before the summer break, otherwise further damage to the industry will result."

The preliminary administrator Oliver Schartl, of the Munich-based lawfirm Müller-Heydenreich Beutler & Kollegen, sees chances that there is viable future for a large part of the company’s operations: "The company has an excellent reputation in the market, large technological know-how, about 200 MW of Operations & Maintenance under contract and is very well positioned the US, which has become one of the most important markets in PV."

Furthermore, Dr. Stefan Parhofer, Management Board Member of GSAG and CEO of Gehrlicher Solar America Corporation, is also optimistic: "We operate completely independent of the German organization and are therefore not directly affected by the parent’s filing. Our business partners can rely 100% on us to continue to execute projects to the highest standards.” In addition, the first enquiries from interested investors are already arriving.

Source: Gehrlicher Solar/