14 May 2003  Bekaert announces agreement with ECD on Unisolar.

Bekaert announces the signature of an agreement with Energy Conversion Devices Inc., its existing partner in the Unisolar venture, to acquire Bekaert’s total interest in Unisolar.

ECD acquires 19 % in United Solar Systems Corporation and 60 % in Bekaert ECD Solar Systems LLC, and assumes existing Bekaert commitments.

Material terms of the agreement provide that:

  • ECD will pay Bekaert US$6 million;
  • ECD assumes Bekaert guarantees with respect to certain liabilities of the joint ventures amounting to approximately US$25 million;
  • Bekaert receives rights to technologies outside the field of photovoltaics and rights limited to build sputtering machines outside the field of triple-junction photovoltaics.

The agreement foresees a transition period whereby Bekaert will provide certain non-financial support to the Unisolar operations to allow business continuity to its customers.

Bekaert had announced earlier that for Group strategic considerations it would no longer make additional financial resources available for its solar cell activities. Moreover, Bekaert recognised under IFRS rules a substantial impairment on its solar investments in its 2002 annual accounts and has since been actively looking for a third partner to join the Unisolar venture. ECD was a preferential partner in this search and agreement has been reached on the acquisition of all of Bekaert’s interest.

The withdrawal from Unisolar will in no way impact the Bekaert strategy to further develop its Bekaert Advanced Materials business unit.