The Hanwha Group, one of South Korea’s largest business conglomerates, looks to be continuing its push to simplify ownership of its Q-CELLS division, according to reports earlier this month that confirmed its solar PV manufacturing division will be merged with the company’s Advanced Materials business.
In early August, Hanwha Q CELLS followed the trend of other solar manufacturers and announced that it had received a “preliminary non-binding proposal letter” proposing to take the company private. The proposal was made to Hanwha Q-CELLS and its investors by Hanwha Solar Holdings, a subsidiary of Hanwha Chemical Corporation, an affiliate of the Hanwha Group — just a taste of the company’s convoluted corporate structure.
Earlier this month, reports emerged, and were then confirmed, that Hanwha Q CELLS would be merged with Hanwha Advanced Materials. The merger, first reported by Korean financial newspaper Pulse, and then confirmed by several other outlets, is intended to enhance the Advanced Materials business portfolio through diversifying into solar, whereas Q-CELLS will benefit from closer alignment with the Advanced Materials manufacturing network and its R&D capabilities.
“The proposed merger between Hanwha Advanced Materials and Hanwha Q Cells Korea will enable Hanwha Chemical – which will govern Hanwha Q Cells Korea as its wholly-owned subsidiary – to enhance its long-term strategy of cultivating further solar growth,” Hanwha Q-CELLS said. “In the mid to long-term, Hanwha will focus on high value-added solar markets such as the US and Europe, and will continue seeking to improve the company’s solar product efficiency while investing in new technology to help drive lower LCOE [levelized cost of electricity].”
According to Pulse, Hanwha Advanced Materials will buy a majority stake in Q-CELLS from its three main shareholders — Hanwha General Chemical Co., which owns 50.15%, Hanwha Corp., which owns 20.44%, and H-Solution Corp, which owns 9.97%.
The timing of the move speaks volumes, coming so soon after the company began looking at privatization options.
“It looks like Hanwha group is trying to tidy up the very complicated ownership of its Q-Cells division – first by trying to purchase the shares owned publicly (which would also reduce the company’s reporting requirements and distractions relating to that) and then by simplifying the internal ownership,” explained Jenny Chase, Head of Solar Analysis at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “Hanwha Advanced Materials makes some of the components of solar modules, so there are obvious synergies. Having one reporting line to the top, rather than three, will help the company make quick decisions to take opportunities in the notoriously fast-changing solar market.”
According to Chase, the privatization proposal and this new ownership restructuring is “probably part of the same push to consolidate.”
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