Centrotherm Group

centrotherm reports on 2012 and 2013 abbreviated financial years

editor, 31 October 2013

- Revenue mirrors collapse in photovoltaic capital goods market

- High impairment charges and extraordinary items burden results

- Restructuring and efficiency program cuts fixed costs

- Strengthened liquidity and equity base

The revenue of the centrotherm Group amounted to EUR 69.2 million in its 2013 reporting period (October 1, 2012 until May 31, 2013), compared with EUR 149.2 million during the first nine months of 2012 ("2012 reporting period"). This marked revenue decline is due to the sharp contraction in the photovoltaic equipment market that impacted not only centrotherm but also its competitors. The export share dropped to 80.2 % in the 2013 reporting period and 67.1 % in the 2012 reporting period, compared with 95.4 % in the 2011 financial year. Total operating performance amounted to EUR 68.6 million in the 2013 reporting period, compared with EUR 128.2 million in the 2012 reporting period. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) stood at a loss of EUR 25.3 million in the 2013 reporting period. Besides the lower operating performance, EBITDA was especially burdened by extraordinary items connected with the achieved restructuring. EBITDA in the 2012 reporting period was also principally burdened by a high level of valuation adjustments applied to inventories, and amounted to a loss of EUR 107.8 million. The Group incurred an operating loss before interest and tax (EBIT) of EUR 29.7 million in the 2013 reporting period, and a loss of EUR 375.8 million in the 2012 reporting period. EBIT in the 2012 reporting period was particularly hit by a high level of depreciation, amortization and impairment charges totaling EUR 268.0 million. Most of this amount reflected EUR 243.7 million of impairment charges. These impairment charges arose from a new appraisal in the measurement of intangible assets and of property, plant and equipment following the significant collapse in the photovoltaic market. The Group incurred a total consolidated net loss of EUR 77.4 million in the 2013 reporting period, compared with a total consolidated net loss of EUR 372.1 million in 2012 reporting period.

New order intake and order book position

Total new order intake amounted to EUR 163.2 million in the 2013 reporting period. Of this amount, EUR 123.2 million was attributable to the Silicon segment, EUR 35.4 million to the Photovoltaics & Semiconductors segment and EUR 4,5 million to the Thin Film & Customized Systems segment. The order book position amounted to EUR 305.7 million as of May 31, 2013 reporting date.

Emergent success of the restructuring

The centrotherm Group restructured itself in the 2012 and 2013 reporting period, focusing on its strengths in production technology and processes for the photovoltaic, semiconductor and microelectronics industry. "With our concentration on our core competencies, we aim to return centrotherm to a strong position for the future, and to further expand our market position: as a technology leader for the photovoltaic industry and as a specialist for the semiconductor and microelectronics industry," emphasized the members of the Management Board. In this context, the semiconductor and microelectronics area is to be further diversified and expanded as the Group's second pillar in order to better offset future negative market trends, as currently in photovoltaics. centrotherm has also utilized this reorganization and restructuring phase to create a streamlined and efficient structure and organization with optimized corporate processes for future operations.

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centrotherm presents product innovations and process developments at EU PVSEC in Paris

editor, 24 September 2013

Blaubeuren, September 24, 2013 - centrotherm will present a new modular design of its c.FIRE fast firing furnace at EU PVSEC, one of the most important international photovoltaic trade fairs for researchers and specialists. Solar cell manufacturers can optimally configure c.FIRE for their specific process and production requirements through selecting various option packages. With throughput of more than 4,300 wafers, excellent temperature homogeneity and process stability, c.FIRE achieves record figures compared with competitors' products. With this centrotherm fast firing furnace, customers have access to a product that allows them to achieve maximum efficiencies while at the same time being able to use standard market as well as newly-developed metallization pastes.

With its low pressure tube furnace for diffusion, centrotherm is presenting a further product highlight that significantly expands process parameter scope. The low- pressure diffusion process that centrotherm has developed achieves outstanding homogeneity at emitter resistances of up to 150 Q/square, thereby enabling the efficiency potentials of conventional, and especially new, metallization pastes to be exploited (emitter resistance > 100 П/square). European and Asian customers are already deploying this centrotherm technology in several production lines with a total capacity of more than 1.2 gigawatts..

“With our unique process know-how derived from more than 50 successfully installed turnkey production lines and more than 2,000 individual systems to produce highly efficient solar cells, centrotherm is equipped for future developments. Our international team of technologists and integration experts will continue to ensure that existing technologies and solar cell line concepts continue to be optimized in the future. Our centaurus technology (optimized PERC) already achieves average cell efficiencies of 19.8% and peak results of 20.3% not only in the laboratory, but also in mass production with an installed and tested production capacity of more than 500 MW," notes Dr. Josef Haase, Head of Sales and Technology.

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Reorganization of centrotherm photovoltaics AG concluded after implementation of capital measures

editor, 08 August 2013

• Equity base strengthened through contribution of creditors' claims

• New shareholder structure with majority shareholder Sol Futura Verwaltungsgesellschaft

With the successful implementation of the capital measures approved as part of the insolvency plan, the reorganization, and consequently the recapitalization, of centrotherm photovoltaics has now been concluded. This was achieved through converting unsecured creditors' claims into shares in the company. To this end, creditors initially assigned 70% of their claims, which were determined as unconditional and without restriction in the insolvency proceedings that have now been suspended, to Sol Futura Verwaltungsgesellschaft mbH as trustee in mid-May 2013. Following the entry in the commercial register on July 19, 2013 of the capital reduction and capital increase that were approved in the insolvency plan, this trust company contributed the claims to centrotherm photovoltaics AG as part of a non-cash capital increase. These claims have consequently lapsed, thereby significantly reducing the indebtedness of centrotherm photovoltaics AG. The remaining 30% of the receivables will be deferred until the end of 2015 on a non-interest-bearing basis.

Details of the capital measures.

The Ulm District Court entered the capital measures and their implementation in the company's commercial register on July 19, 2013. In a first step, the share capital of centrotherm photovoltaics AG was reduced from previously EUR 21,162,382.00 to EUR 4,232,476.00 by retiring two ordinary shares and consolidating shares in a 5:1 ratio. The company's share capital, which had been reduced to EUR 4,232,476.00, was then increased to EUR 21,162,380.00 through issuing 16,929,904 new ordinary bearer shares with a notional interest in the share capital of EUR 1.00 per share against non-cash capital contributions under exclusion of shareholders' subscription rights. The 16,929,904 new shares are dividend-entitled from January 1, 2013, and were subscribed for, and transferred to, Sol Futura Verwaltungsgesellschaft mbH, Ulm. This administration company is obligated to sell the shares as best possible by December 31, 2015, although at the latest by December 31, 2017, and to satisfy the insolvency creditors' claims from the disposal proceeds.

The technical implementation of the capital measures and the conversion of the shares are concluded as of the end of August 8, 2013. The new bearer shares that are held by the previous shareholders are traded on the Regulated Market of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and on other regional stock exchanges such as Stuttgart under the following securities codes: German Securities Identification Number / WKN: A1TNMM; ISIN: DE000A1TNMM9. For the time being, no plans exist to admit to the Regulated Market and to list the shares from the non-cash capital increase. Sol Futura Verwaltungsgesellschaft holds these shares under the following securities codes: WKN A1TNMN; ISIN: DE000A1TNMN7. Until further notice, the shares held by Sol Futura Verwaltungsgesellschaft will not be admitted to stock market trading since they comprise an interest that serves to maintain a controlling influence over the company. To this extent, the company is utilizing the regulation contained in Section 7 (1) Clause 2 in combination with Section 69 (1) Clause 2 of the German Stock Market Listing Directive (BörsZulV).

New shareholder structure

Due to the entry of the capital measures and their implementation in the commercial register, centrotherm photovoltaics AG has had a new shareholder structure since July 19, 2013. Sol Futura Verwaltungsgesellschaft holds 16,929,904 shares in the company (corresponding to 80% of the share capital and voting rights). As a result of the reduction of the share capital, the interest of the previous majority shareholder TCH GmbH has reduced from 50% to 10% (2,116,238 shares). The remaining 10% of the shares in centrotherm photovoltaics AG comprise the free float.

Financial calendar 2013

Due to the fact that the insolvency proceedings were suspended only a few weeks ago, centrotherm has been unable to date to prepare or publish any financial reports for the periods following March 31, 2012. The company will comply with its financial reporting duties pursuant to the German Securities Trading Act, and publish these reports accordingly. The publication of the first reports is scheduled for the end of October 2013. The Shareholders' General Meeting of centrotherm photovoltaics AG will be held prospectively in mid-December 2013.

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Court terminates centrotherm photovoltaics AG's insolvency proceedings

editor, 03 June 2013

Group fully reorganized and fit for the future

The Ulm District Court has approved the insolvency plan of centrotherm photovoltaics AG in the version dated January 29, 2013, and has terminated the insolvency proceedings with effect as of the end of May 31. These proceedings have been running since October 2012. "centrotherm is now a fully independent and reorganized company again that enjoys long-term stable financing and positive future prospects. We have done our reorganization homework in a difficult market environment, and we are a strengthened and reliable partner for customers and suppliers," commented the two Management Board members for the reorganization under the company's own administration, Tobias Hoefer and Jan von Schuckmann.

As early as January 29, 2013, centrotherm had surmounted the decisive hurdle for the company's reorganization and recapitalization: creditors and shareholders approved with a large majority the insolvency plan that was presented at the discussion and coordination meeting convened by the Ulm District Court. The Ulm District Court approved this plan and, after all conditions were fulfilled, confirmed that the proceedings that commenced with the application that was submitted in July 2012 for protection under the German Act Relating to the Further Simplification of the Reorganization of Companies (ESUG) could now be terminated. The same applies for the subsidiaries centrotherm thermal solutions GmbH & Co. KG and centrotherm SiTec GmbH, for which independent proceedings are running.

Jobs and millions of euros' worth of assets retained for shareholders and creditors

"centrotherm can now successfully complete its reorganization, and further strengthen its position as a globally leading provider of production technology for thermal surface processes in the photovoltaic, semiconductor and microelectronic industries. The implementation of the reorganization plan delivers a result that is equally beneficial for shareholders, employees and creditors. For shareholders, millions of euros' worth of assets, the stock market listing and their shares' capital appreciation potential are preserved. Creditors retain the opportunity to realize 100 percent of their receivables, and, not least, all of the currently around 900 jobs within the centrotherm Group can be secured," is the assessment of Hoefer and von Schuckmann.

The market environment continues to prove very difficult, and no positive signs exist of improvement over the next months. Over the next few years, centrotherm will continue to invest double-digit amounts of millions of euros to develop new technologies and products in the photovoltaic and semiconductor areas, in order to secure and expand its globally leading technological position.

According to the plan, the capital structure will now be bolstered through converting unsecured creditors' receivables into the company's shares. To this end, creditors will assign 70 percent of their receivables that have been determined to be unconditional and without restriction to an administration company, thereby contributing them to centrotherm photovoltaics AG by way of a capital increase. The insolvency receivables that have been contributed will expire. In other words, centrotherm photovoltaics AG will be significantly deleveraged.

In the first step, the company's share capital will be reduced through consolidating the shares in five to one ratio, equivalent to a EUR 16,929,904 reduction to EUR 4,232,476 (capital write-down). Existing shareholders are not required to take any action in this context, and their depository banks will write to them informing them once this capital measure has been registered. In a directly subsequent step, the share capital will be increased again to EUR 21,162,380 by way of a cash capital increase against non-cash capital contributions through contribution of creditor receivables (debt-for-equity swap). As a consequence, the administration company will hold 80 percent of the shares of centrotherm photovoltaics AG, and former shareholders will retain the remaining 20 percent.

Fair settlement of interests sets a precedent

"A settlement of interests as realized by this plan sets a precedent for the reorganization of companies in a manner that the legislator wished to promote with the German Act Relating to the Further Simplification of the Reorganization of Companies (ESUG). Within just a few months, we have consequently succeeded in making a globally operating and listed group fit again for the future, and in creating a fair settlement of interests in doing so. On this scale, this sets a unique precedent in Germany to date," emphasize Hoefer and von Schuckmann.

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Group restructuring of centrotherm photovoltaics AG concluded:

editor, 02 May 2013

- Disposal of GP Solar to strategic investor

centrotherm has sold its subsidiary GP Solar to ISRA VISION AG, thereby achieving its target structure for its new start shortly before the Ulm District Court is due to terminate insolvency proceedings. With its future concept, centrotherm is concentrating on its technological strengths in its core business areas of crystalline solar cells and semiconductors, as well as microelectronics. During its reorganization phase, the technology and systems provider sold subsidiaries such as Glatt Maschinenbau GmbH, and now GP Solar, which do not form part of its core business, as well as unprofitable parts of the company.

A fixed price component equivalent to approximately 50 percent of GP Solar's forecast 2013 revenue and a unit-based earnout component was agreed as the purchase price. GP Solar and its subsidiary GP Inspect anticipate current-year revenue of more than EUR 3 million. This generates a positive contribution for centrotherm and its creditors that provides additional liquidity. The purchase agreement also includes a partnership-based supplier relationship from which centrotherm's customers from the photovoltaic and semiconductor industries can benefit.

"With ISRA VISION – a world market leader in surface inspection systems – we have found a strategic investor that can act as a well-equipped partner to GP Solar in tapping the future potential of the photovoltaic sector. At the same time, a good supplier relationship with GP Solar continues to exist through its new owner," commented Tobias Hoefer and Jan von Schuckmann, Management Board members responsible for the reorganization under the company's own administration.

A strong and efficient "new" centrotherm is being created at the Group's main site at Blaubeuren, Germany, following the termination of insolvency proceedings and subsequent merger of centrotherm thermal solutions with the parent company (the listed stock corporation). The subsidiary FHR Anlagenbau GmbH in Dresden, whose range of products and services rank among core competences, remains within the Group. Newly-founded SiTec GmbH, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the parent company, is to continue to operate the Silicon & Wafer Division, which will push further ahead with the construction of a polysilicon factory in Qatar, among other projects. After the Ulm District Court confirmed centrotherm photovoltaics AG's insolvency plan last Friday, the proceedings, which are still running in formal terms, can soon be terminated, prospectively by the end of May 2013.

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centrotherm wins its largest order to date in Semiconductor segment

editor, 27 March 2013

centrotherm thermal solutions GmbH has won the largest order to date in its company's history with the delivery of production systems to manufacture power semiconductors to Chinese company Zhuzhou CSR Times Electric Co. Ltd., (TEG). TEG ordered a total of four horizontal furnaces and one vertical furnace for the thermal treatment of power semiconductors from the technology and process provider based in Swabia, Germany. These semiconductors are utilized in components for the electronic management of high-speed trains and signaling systems, which TEG supplies to its parent company CSR Corporation Limited, one of China's two largest railway companies. The order volume for centrotherm thermal solutions, a company wholly owned by centrotherm photovoltaics AG and which will soon merge with the AG as part of the centrotherm Group's restructuring, amounts to a high single-digit figure in millions of euros.

centrotherm won out against competitors primarily with its integrated handling system which enables fully automatic semiconductor processing after one loading with several charges. As the only provider of such a handling system, centrotherm delivers its customers a significant advantage through time and cost savings, while offering tried-and-tested process stability and security at the same time. The vertical furnace Verticoo mini proved persuasive to TEG with regard to processing extremely thin wafers. centrotherm thermal solutions delivered high-temperature furnaces for the thermal treatment of silicon carbide wafers to its customer TEG at the end of 2012. These are utilized in inverters for wind power and solar plants, among other applications.

centrotherm thermal solutions presented its portfolio of products and services at the SEMICON China trade fair last week. Besides horizontal furnaces with fully automated handling systems, other centrotherm products such as the Activator150 and Oxidator150 for the high-growth market for silicon carbide applications formed the focus of the trade fair presence. "Many existing customers who have used our process solutions to conduct research and development to date are now entering mass production with this step. We are currently engaged in contractual negotiations with this customer base," commented Hans Reichart, Technical Director at the Semiconductor Segment. New centrotherm single wafer processing systems were also presented: the c.PLASMOXLT, whose applications include producing memories and logic blocks for flashcards or RAM modules for computers, and the c.RAPID200, whose applications include manufacturing logic blocks for the automotive industry.

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Centrotherm: Achieving best-in-class polysilicon production in the Middle East

editor, 20 March 2013

Steffen Mueller, head of technical marketing at Germany-based Centrotherm SiTec, tells PV Insider what it is about the Middle East that makes it ideal for cost-effective polysilicon production.

While the oversupply of polysilicon to China between 2011 and 2012 squeezed out more than 90% of local producers, on the other side of the world, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are building their first polysilicon manufacturing facilities, as they prepare to fill an expected spike in the domestic demand for silicon with the planned establishment of a PV industry.

Why Qatar needs polysilicon

Qatar’s motive is to use the silicon for solar panels to power air-con systems at the 2022 FIFA World Cup stadia, and also to generate power through building-integrated solar systems. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, is preparing for its large-scale solar power programme, which involves generating 16GW through PV by 2032.

Germany’s Centrotherm SiTec, a subsidiary of Centrotherm Photovoltaics, is involved in both markets and has established an office in Qatar. The company is one of two partners selected by Qatar Solar Technologies (QSTec) in early 2010 to help them achieve best-in-class polysilicon production costs at the current plant that is underway.

“We are currently executing our comprehensive know how at the biggest polysilicon project in the MENA region for an 8,000 MTPY-polysilicon production plant in Qatar. Centrotherm SiTec accompanies customers from feasibility studies through engineering services and consulting, providing basic engineering packages, supplying key equipment, and supporting them with the start-up and ramp-up of the entire plant,” Mueller tells PV Insider.

QSTec’s polysilicon manufacturing facility – expected to be operational in the second half of 2013 – will use second- generation Siemens reactors and converters from Centrotherm SiTec, in a closed loop system that recycles and purifies any unused gasses and byproducts to be used again. Built within the massive Ras Laffan Industrial City, the plant’s site can be expanded to produce more than 45,000 MTPY.

IDEA opts for hydro chlorination

In Saudi Arabia, Centrotherm SiTec is working with IDEA Polysilicon Company (IPC) since January 2012, providing practical knowledge and engineering for the construction of the company’s polysilicon manufacturing facility in Yanbu Industrial City. Initially producing 10,000 tons per year of solar-grade polysilicon, ingot and wafer, the plant will eventually expand to produce 20,000 tons of polysilicon annually.

“We already delivered a project-specific technology package and adapted it to the specific site conditions according to IPC’s requirements. Together with an EPC company, the proposal has been further detailed,” says Mueller. The criteria for the selection of Centrotherm as partner for IPC were based on the supply of competitive polysilicon technology and equipment, as well as the subsequent extension along the solar value chain up to the module, such as the production of metallurgical silicon and manufacturing of ingots and wafers, which would in turn boost domestic production.

IPC expects to achieve lower production costs by using a hydro chlorination-based process and combined with advanced polysilicon deposition production process, which would reduce electricity consumption and achieve a higher quality than the conventional process.

“Unique chlorine recycling technology supports “green” polysilicon production and the emissions are well below the local permissible limits. In addition, having a high degree of process automation supports high safety standards, while securing reliable quality and reducing operational cost,” explains Mueller.

Competitive production base

According to Mueller, there are several advantages that make this region a competitive base for polysilicon production, ranging from the attractive electric power rates and infrastructure, to the presence of a strong oil and gas industry and competitive labour costs. Most importantly, the fast-growing local PV market will soon call for supply.

“Polysilicon production is very energy consumable. The Middle East with its low electricity and energy costs provides the best conditions for low-cost polysilicon manufacturing. Educated staff and a competitive labour market are also available,” he says.

The region’s well-developed chemical industry also facilitates the required infrastructure. “A polysilicon plant is more or less a chemical plant, and a well-developed chemical industry means that gases such as hydrogen, nitrogen, hydrogen chloride, which are necessary for polysilicon production, are available on site and can be purchased from their producers”, Mueller explains. This advantage lowers the investment cost and makes it easier to start up a polysilicon facility. In addition, the presence of a strong refining industry and manpower enable the operation of such plants.

To bring polysilicon production costs down from an early stage, Mueller suggests that project developers conduct feasibility studies according to local conditions, pursue a technology selection process and establish an effective project plan. These activities would determine the overall expected project cost as well as the total production cost.

Considering that Dubai is targeting at least 200MW through PV in its 1GW Solar Park by 2030, and given that Saudi Arabia has set minimum local content levels of 60% and 70% for the country’s first and second PV tenders (1.1GW and 1.3GW, respectively), the development of an integrated PV supply chain in the region will sooner or later be imperative.

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REC opts for centrotherm photovoltaics high volume production systems to upgrade existing production lines in Singapore

editor, 28 February 2013

REC, a leading global provider of solar electricity solutions, has placed an order with centrotherm for their high-throughput diffusion systems for its complete 740 megawatt (MW) solar production line in Singapore. Having successfully integrated centrotherm diffusion technology into one of its production lines REC has decided to equip and upgrade all remaining lines at its site in Asia. centrotherm photovoltaics won out against its competitors with its 5-chamber diffusion furnace, which not only offers outstanding phosphorus diffusion capabilities, but also enables the reliable implementation of higher resistance emitters on a low-cost basis. The throughput-optimized tube furnace is purposely designed to meet the stringent demands of mass solar cell production and offers excellent process performance and stability. This equipment order is valued in a higher single-digit million Euro range.

With this step, REC will develop the next generation of high-performance solar cells and modules, for the growing global solar market. REC's solar modules were ranked as test-winners in terms of module output with lowest degradation over time, according to data provided by PHOTON Laboratory in 2012.

"centrotherm can deliver persuasively to globally leading manufacturers as its solutions and products in the solar cell area guarantee a high level of process security and system performance, consequently enabling the manufacturing of state-of-the-art products”, notes Dr. Josef Haase, CEO of centrotherm cell & module, before going to add: “centrotherm’s leading production technology paired with the outstanding local support capabilities from the centrotherm Singapore office offered the decisive benefit."

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Reorganization and recapitalization of centrotherm photovoltaics AG passes decisive hurdle

editor, 29 January 2013

- creditors and shareholders approve insolvency plan

- centrotherm can maintain leading market position with new structure and generate profits again by as early as 2014

centrotherm photovoltaics AG has now passed the decisive hurdle for the company's reorganization and recapitalization: at the discussion and voting meeting that was convened today by the Ulm District Court, creditors and shareholders approved the insolvency plan that was submitted with a large majority. With the confirmation by the court and the satisfaction of the final formal conditions, the insolvency proceedings can soon be terminated.

"With their decision, creditors and shareholders have allowed centrotherm to successfully complete its reorientation, thereby reopening the way to positive future prospects. If we implement the plan as envisaged, it will comprise an equally beneficial result for shareholders, employees and creditors. For shareholders, millions of euros' worth of value, the stock market listing and the value enhancement potentials of their shares remain. Creditors stand a good chance of realizing 100 percent of their receivables, or even more. Last, but not least, all of the currently approximately 1,000 jobs within the centrotherm Group can also be maintained," was how Tobias Hoefer, Management Board member responsible for the insolvency plan and the company's own administration, summarized the outcome.

Hoefer explained the key contents of the reorganization plan to around 100 creditors and shareholders who attended the voting meeting at the "Haus der Begegnung" venue in Ulm. This plan entails continuing the company as a listed stock corporation, and strengthening its capital structure through converting unsecured creditors' receivables into the company's shares. To this end, creditors will cede 70 percent of their receivables deemed unconditional and without restriction to an independent administration company which is at liberty to dispose of such assets as it sees fit. This administration company will transfer the ceded receivables to centrotherm photovoltaics, thereby becoming a shareholder in the debtor. The transferred insolvency receivables will be cancelled. In other words, centrotherm photovoltaics AG will enjoy a significant reduction in its debt position. The administration company will acquire shares in the debtor as consideration for the receivables which have been transferred, a move which will occur as part of a combined capital reduction and increase.

In the first step, the company's share capital will be reduced by EUR 16,929,904 to EUR 4,232,476 by consolidating the shares in a five to one ratio (capital write-down). In a directly subsequent step, the share capital will be increased again to EUR 21,162,380 by way of a non-cash capital increase through transferring the creditor receivables (debt-to-equity swap).

As a consequence, the administration company will act as a kind of trustee by holding 80 percent of the shares in centrotherm photovoltaics AG for the creditors, with the residual 20 percent remaining with existing shareholders. The administration company is obligated to the insolvency creditors to sell the shares on the best possible terms, settling their claims from the sale proceeds. Depending on the sale proceeds achieved, the insolvency creditors will potentially receive 100 percent or more satisfaction of their original insolvency receivables.

"Compared with alternative approaches, the insolvency plan offers advantages for all participants in the proceedings. In any case, no creditor or shareholder will be worse off than they would be if their assets were to be sold in a normal procedure," Hoefer emphasized.

The insolvency plan also includes a number of regulations which should ensure successful implementation as far as possible. These include that the satisfaction of the insolvency plan is supervised by court-appointed administrator Prof. Martin Hörmann. The creditor committee will also continue, monitoring the sale of the shares by the administration company, in particular.

Insolvency plan offers advantages for all involved parties This process allows stock market access to be preserved so that the administration company can, with the agreement of the committee of creditors, sell the shares it holds on the stock exchange or to an individual investor or a group of investors. Depending on the returns achieved, it is possible that insolvency creditors could in this way have their original insolvency claims completely satisfied or even exceeded.

"A settlement of interests as with this plan sets an example of how companies can be reorganized as intended and supported by legislators with the German Act Relating to the Further Simplification of the Reorganization of Companies (ESUG). As a consequence, we have needed only a few months to make a globally operating and listed group fit again for the future, achieving a fair settlement of interests in the process," was the assessment of administrator Prof. Martin Hörmann. "On this scale, it sets a unique precedent in Germany to date."

“This is the result of hard and committed work by management and staff over recent months since the insolvency protection proceedings were applied for in July 2012. We have proceeded very successfully with the strategic, structural and operational reorientation of the centrotherm Group, and better than expected given an ailing market for photovoltaic products," noted CEO Jan von Schuckmann. "The company enjoys secure medium-term financing, making it a reliable partner for both customers and suppliers. We have done our homework in a difficult sector environment.

"The works council, which was established a few days ago with the support of the Management Board, also ensures the involvement of employees in the "new centrotherm" in the future. The centrotherm Group's new strategic orientation includes a concentration on its core business of production technology for thermal surface processes in the photovoltaic industry, with a focus on solar cells. As the second pillar, the semiconductors area, which offers a long-term sales revenue potential of EUR 100 million to EUR 150 million, is to be further established and expanded. Here, centrotherm already enjoys an established market position with competitive products.

The Group structure has also been organized on a significantly more streamlined, cost-effective and efficient basis through concentrating centrotherm photovoltaics AG's competences at its Blaubeuren site. "We have become more efficient and powerful in all areas, thereby creating good preconditions for our fresh start. Our employees' expertise is our most valuable asset," von Schuckmann notes.

The changes at Management Board level which have already been announced also become effective with the approval of the insolvency plan at the end of January. Dr. Dirk Stenkamp, who, as COO of centrotherm photovoltaics AG, has been responsible to date for the Operations area and the major project in Qatar, will leave the company to devote himself to new professional challenges. Dr. Peter Fath and Dr. Thomas Riegler will also step down from centrotherm photovoltaics' Management Board as of January 31, 2013. Dr. Fath, who has been Chief Technology Officer to date, will remain attached to the company in another function with his technology expertise and excellent network of contacts at international research institutions, and will continue to support and drive ahead with activities in the MENA region and with contractual negotiations at the large-scale project in Algeria, among other activities. Dr. Riegler, who has been centrotherm photovoltaics AG's CFO to date, will continue to act as a consultant to the company until the successful conclusion of important restructuring projects such as the preparation of the debt-to-equity swap, the optimization of internal processes and the SAP rollout.

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