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Meyer Burger, Looking Abroad & Restructuring

  • By The Swiss Times
  • 14 March 2024

Meyer Burger confronts significant losses, shutting down its Freiberg site to pivot towards promising U.S. markets, amidst challenges from global competition.

Meyer Burger, Looking Abroad & Restructuring
Keystone/SEBASTIAN WILLNOW

The solar company Meyer Burger made a huge loss last year. Module production at the Freiberg site in Saxony was discontinued in mid-March as planned in 2024. The company will now seek its fortune in the USA.

Meyer Burger’s sales fell to CHF 135.0 million in 2023, as the company announced on Thursday. In operational terms (EBITDA), the company was once again in the red with a loss of CHF 163.6 million, much higher than previous losses. The bottom line was a very high loss of 291.9 million (previous year: -69.9 million).

Meyer tried to down play the losses, insisting, inventories had to be written down at the end of the fiscal year because of drops in market prices from the second half of the year. Without these value adjustments, the operating result (EBITDA) would have amounted to “only” -111.9 million Swiss francs.

Closing Factories & Competition

The company is once again dealing with the closure of the plant in Freiberg in eastern Germany. Production there has now actually been discontinued as of mid-March, according to reports. Hopes for more support from German politicians have apparently not been fulfilled for the time being.

Meyer Burger originally wanted to close the Freiberg plant, which is only three years old, at the end of February. Due to the dumping prices from China, production there was no longer worthwhile and the company wanted to cut their losses.

Meyer Burger also complains that the EU is not adequately protecting the solar industry from highly subsidised Chinese competitors. With such an uneven playing field they claim, “fair competition” is no longer possible and withdrawal is the logical consequence.

Around 500 employees will lose their jobs as a result. However, Meyer Burger intends to continue solar cell production in Thalheim (also in eastern Germany). Research and development will also remain in Switzerland and Germany.

Relocation to the USA

That is why the ailing company is now seeking its fortune in the USA. The market there is well protected against cheap imports from China and the order books are well filled. The company is investing heavily in the completion of solar cell production in Colorado Springs and in solar module production in Goodyear, Arizona.

Meyer Burger already initiated the investments in the USA several years ago. Production at the new plant in Goodyear, Arizona, is set to start as planned in the second quarter of 2024, Meyer Burger continued.

The ramp-up of cell production in Colorado Springs, in turn, is scheduled to begin towards the end of 2024, provided the necessary financing is obtained, as currently expected.

As is well known, the company intends to secure 200 to 250 million Swiss francs in fresh funds via a capital increase. Meyer Burger announced that its largest customer Desri now intends to participate in the upcoming capital increase alongside Sentis.

An investment of up to 20 million US dollars, but no more than 10 percent of the issue volume, is planned through the acquisition of unsubscribed shares.

Desri and Meyer Burger have been working closely together in the US since 2022 under a multi-year offtake agreement. Meyer Burger now believes that Desri’s planned investment will significantly strengthen Meyer Burger’s market positioning in the US.

©Keystone/SDA

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