Breakingviews

SoftBank’s solar ambitions fly close to the Son

June 23, 2015

Masayoshi Son has pledged to invest $20 bln in solar energy in India with partners Bharti and Foxconn. The country’s energy needs are clear but synergies with the Japanese group’s internet businesses look dubious. Shareholders can only hope the board clips the chairman’s wings.

Goldman renewable energy dash more than greenwash

By Christopher Swann
May 24, 2012

The Wall Street firm says it will deploy $40 bln over a decade. It isn’t above self-serving spin, but it’s also never far from the money. With solar and wind power nearing competitive cost levels, clean energy could burnish Goldman’s bottom line as well as its green credentials.

China’s solar bonds leave dim hope of payback

March 13, 2013

On financial grounds, the looming default of panel-maker Suntech should leave foreign creditors with nothing. Solar overcapacity is rampant and the bonds’ terms are weak. What value remains is a risky bet that authorities will deem offshore investors too useful to snub outright.

Exposed bondholders suffer solar burns in China

March 22, 2013

When solar power was hot in 2008, investors in Suntech bought bonds with no claim on the panel maker’s Chinese business. Now they are likely to emerge from bankruptcy proceedings with pennies. Have lessons been learned? Recent issues by debt-laden property developers suggest not.

ABB takes a shine to solar

April 22, 2013

The Swiss engineer is buying Nasdaq-listed Power-One for $1 bln. The solar glut has spelt financial misery for many, although ABB says its target is in a sweet spot. ABB is being unusually acquisitive for a European blue-chip. It needs to show investors its M&A strategy makes sense.

Europe rightly throws shade on solar tariffs plan

May 28, 2013

Why would Germany and other EU countries reject punitive tariffs on Chinese solar panel makers? After all, they are the ones who suffer. But European companies in other industries producing in China have more to lose. Fairness may not prevail, but rationality should.

China well placed to turn green into gold

December 17, 2009

China has been reluctant to give way on climate change issues, as the stalemate at the Copenhagen summit shows. But the desire to be tough negotiators shouldn't get in the way of green initiatives. China may have more to gain than most from a global push towards a greener world, both as a heavy commodity user and as an exporter into a potential $1 trillion market.

Suntech casts shadow over China capital raisings

November 8, 2013

The stricken solar panel maker is fighting bondholders who want to see it liquidated. Despite a vague offer of local government cash, its $270 mln enterprise value looks deluded. For investors piling into Chinese companies, it’s a lesson in what happens when things go wrong.

Beijing’s great power comes with little foresight

October 20, 2009

Just two years after Beijing started throwing incentives at green technology manufacturers, it has now decided to starve them of financing. This stop-start approach shows that, while Beijing may have more levers at its disposal when stimulating industries, it also has a bigger risk of run-away supply growth.