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First Solar Announces Startup Acquisition

April 10, 2013
First Solar, Largest U.S. Solar Manufacturer, Announces Startup Acquisition

First Solar, the largest manufacturer of solar panels in the United States, announced Tuesday that it has agreed to acquire Silicon Valley startup TetraSun, which makes high-capacity solar cells.

First Solar did not disclose a purchase price for the deal, which will give the Arizona company TetraSun's technology for manufacturing high-efficiency solar cells at costs comparable to the conventional methods First Solar currently uses.

"This breakthrough technology will unlock the half of the (photovoltaic) market which favors high-efficiency solutions, which has been unserved by First Solar to date," Jim Hughes, CEO of First Solar, said in Tuesday's news release.

TetraSun's team of 14 employees will remain in San Jose, First Solar announced, while working to ramp up their production to commercial-scale level, which the companies expect to occur in the second half of 2014.

"This is a game-changing technology, and with First Solar we have the freedom to continue our blank-canvas approach, unconstrained by pre-existing designs or production equipment, and backed by the strongest balance sheet in the industry," TetraSun CEO Denis De Ceuster said in the announcement.

TetraSun investor JX Nippon Oil & Energy agreed to the deal and will work with First Solar to distribute the technology in its home country of Japan. The transaction is expected to close in the current quarter.

The acquisition was announced toward the end of Tuesday's trading session, when First Solar shares spiked, carrying other solar companies with it.

First Solar announced at its analyst meeting that it expects revenues of up to $4 billion this year and profits of $4 to $4.50 a share, far superior to analysts' expectations of $3.57 a share, according to Bloomberg News calculations.

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Source: Copyright San Jose Mercury News (CA) 2013