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Solartron looks to foreign orders for 50% of sales

Patama

Patama

Solartron Plc, the biggest producer of multi-crystal line solar cells in Southeast Asia, is gearing up to penetrate the overseas market, focusing on the EU, the United States and Asia, with the goal of deriving half of its sales from abroad this year.

Executive chairman Patama Wongtoythong said yesterday that the company would today seek board approval to raise about Bt150 million via a rights offering to expand its 70-megawatt solar cell plant in Nakhon Ratchasima to 190MW. The resolution would be put to a vote at the shareholders' meeting on April 28.

"The construction of the new production line costs about Bt700 million. With more efficient technology, that is cheaper than the first line with a cost of Bt1.2 billion. But, we need about Bt400 million from the public and the rest will be from bank loans," she said.

Under the proposal, the company would increase its capital by 30 per cent from Bt500 million by issuing 150 million rights offering shares with par value of Bt1 each to its existing shareholders. If the plan succeeds, the new line is expected to be completed in the middle of next year.

The Korat factory started producing solar modules and solar cells last November. It also provides customised services from engineering and procurement to construction. Most customers are corporations that want to produce their own electricity.

Solartron is expected to lock into sale agreements for 100MW of solar modules in the foreign market this year, of which 40MW were already sold to the EU.

"This year we expect to see half in foreign sales and this proportion will increase to 70 per cent in five years. Domestic sales, including Asian, will be 30 per cent," she said.

Solartron earned Bt121.27 million on revenue of Bt1.38 billion last year.

For next year, Solartron would focus more on the Asian market, including Myanmar, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia, as its "Solartron" brand is very strong in Asia. Incorporated 28 years ago, the firm has already studied almost all of the markets in Asia.

The company has given priority to the renewable energy market in Japan, which has opened to purchasing up to 10 gigawatts from solar power plants.

"Now, we are in talks with many foreign partners to install a solar power plant in Japan. The deal could be completed by the end of this year," she said.

The company may enter the market via a 50:50 joint venture. The solar power plant in Japan, if ti materialises from a JV deal, will install Solartron's solar modules.

This year's earnings results are expected to surge 30 per cent, she added.






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