SolarTec Announces Plans for Singapore Plant; Reverse Takeover

July 12, 2007 by Jeff Shepard

Germany’s SolarTec AG is firming up plans to gain a presence in Singapore, including the setting up of a $100 million manufacturing plant and a listing via a reverse takeover on the local bourse.

The solar technology company is preparing to set up a production facility to make thin-film solar modules – essentially glass panels coated with photo-voltaic (PV) cells that are about 1-2µ thick and can produce electricity to power a building. Such thin-film modules may also be used for field installations in a large power plant. The facility is expected to take up some 15,000 square feet of space initially and employ about 150 people.

SolarTec CEO Erich Merkle said the factory will have an annual capacity of 45MW, and that solar cells produced by the plant can power the needs of about 20,000 people in a year. He stated, "Such a new generation, individual PV production plant needs more capital than the traditional ones. So you are talking about 50-60 million euros (S$103-124 million) in investment. So it’s important to be in a country like Singapore where you have structures to raise this capital."

Earlier this year, SolarTec was seeking some 25 million euros in pre-IPO funding, although that sum may be adjusted upwards, now that it will include a Singapore production site in its plans.

"Over the next one to two months, we will close this round of funding," added Merkle. "We’ve also been successful raising funds in Switzerland and Germany, so fund raising at this point is not a big problem." He is confident that SolarTec’s business model will attract investors. Made of amorphous silicon, these thin film modules may be integrated into buildings as roofs or windows. Although they have low efficiency rates of 10%, they have high absorptivity of light, making them suitable for cloudy areas.

Merkle also revealed that the company is in talks with a listed firm in the microelectronics industry on a potential reverse takeover offer. "We’ve found a target and had our first discussions. So far, I think it’s going in the right direction. There are many details we have to find an agreement on."