Total to take majority stake in SunPower

AP News
Posted: Apr 28, 2011 5:58 PM
Total to take majority stake in SunPower

French oil company Total SA said on Thursday that it will offer $23.25 for up to 60 percent of the shares of solar panel maker SunPower Corp.

The move will put Europe's third-largest oil company into the growing solar business.

The offer values SunPower at $2.3 billion, and SunPower shares jumped on the news, rising $6.39, or nearly 40 percent, to $22.51 in aftermarket trading after the deal was announced. Total shares fell 15 cents to $63.65.

The companies said Total would also offer SunPower up to $1 billion in lending.

SunPower, based in San Jose, Calif., makes some of the world's most efficient solar panels, but at relatively high cost. It has struggled to compete with lower-cost panels made by Chinese companies and with thin-film solar panels made by First Solar.

SunPower CEO Tom Werner said the partnership with Total will help SunPower expand its manufacturing capacity at a lower cost.

Philippe Boisseau, president of Total's gas and power division, said the move is looking toward a "long-term transition in which renewable energies will take their place alongside conventional resources." The company aims "to become a major integrated player in solar energy."

Total looked at a number of solar investments for more than two years before picking SunPower, Boisseau said.

Total is based in Courbevoie, France.