Suntech could be the canary in the coal mine…
Is Suntech too big a Chinese brand to fail?
On March 15, the cash-strapped solar company—until recently the world’s biggest photovoltaic panel maker—faces a $541 million payment on convertible notes, a quarter of the $2 billion in debt it has incurred.
Whether Suntech can strike a deal with its bondholders or secure a government bailout will set the stage for the collapse or consolidation of the Chinese solar industry. Other photovoltaic giants, including Trina Solar and JA Solar, also face crushing debt and overcapacity—a result of a rapid expansion of manufacturing that sent solar panel prices plummeting and allowed China to dominate the global market.
Given that Suntech founder Zhengrong Shi became famous as China’s one-time billionaire Sun King, it’s tempting to draw Shakespearian allusions as March 15 approaches – the Ides of March and all. Except that the Suntech board dispatched this solar Caesar on Monday, replacing him as…
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