INSOLVENCY

No Savior in Sight for Solarworld

solarworld problems
The sun may set on Frank Asbeck’s solar empire. Source: Oliver Berg/dpa

They are prepared to make big sacrifices and fighting to the bitter end. Solarworld’s workforce is making urgent appeals in a last-ditch attempt to persuade an investor to save the insolvent photovoltaics company. In an open letter, hundreds of employees offered to forego parts of their salaries for three months if someone is willing to buy the former solar star’s factories.

“It would be sheer negligence to let these qualified, motivated people go,” said Peter Finger, the head of Solarworld’s workers’ council. He’d prefer to move people to part-time work rather than let them go, but there isn’t even enough money for that. Solarworld isn’t earning a cent at this point; it’s just burning money. The three months’ insolvency benefits from the Federal Labor Office runs out at the end of this month, and there is no savior in sight. That’s why Mr. Finger’s worst fear is now likely to be realized: a painful liquidation of what was formerly Europe’s biggest photovoltaics group.

Company meetings are scheduled today in the Solarworld factories in Arnstadt and Freiberg, both in eastern Germany. Company works council chief Anke Martin-Heede says she expects a decision today. According to information obtained by Handelsblatt, there are only two scenarios left to discuss: Solarworld is liquidated and nearly all of its 1,850 employees are laid off effective Aug. 1, or Solarworld shifts into emergency mode and focuses on subcontract manufacturing for third parties.

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