Sunday, November 16, 2008

Akeena Solar could be targeted by partners Suntech or Kyocera in early 2009, sources say

Akeena Solar (NASDAQ:AKNS), the Los Gatos, California-based solar power system designer and installer, could be targeted by business partners Suntech or Kyocera in early 2009, according to industry sources.
CEO Barry Cinnamon said Akeena is looking at all opportunities and would do what is in the best interest of the shareholders when asked if the company could be acquired. He said Akeena is in ongoing dialogue with Japan-based Kyocera, which manufactures Akeena’s Andalay solar panels, and China-based Suntech Power Holdings, which distributes the Andalay panels in Europe, Australia and Japan. He added that Akeena, which has a USD 84m market capitalization, has what foreign solar manufacturers are looking for -- a good footprint in the US and a solid product.
Cinnamon, who owns 30% of the company, said Akeena has in-house counsel and uses DLA Piper as its legal advisor. He added that the company has worked in the past with a number of investment banks and advisors, but is not looking to hire any at this time.
A US analyst said Akeena will have a tough time getting the capital it needs in today’s paralyzed capital markets, and said he could see the company being acquired in the first half of 2009. Akeena has a good product that makes it more attractive than its competitors, the analyst added.
In the last year, Kyocera and Suntech have signed licensing agreements with Akeena, allowing them to manufacture Akeena’s Andalay solar panels and distribute them around the world. That would make a strong case for either of the Asian photovoltaic manufacturers to acquire Akeena, said the analyst.
A recent analyst report valued the company at USD 6 per share, which "reflected the likelihood that Akeena will have far fewer options in 2009." Akeena is currently trading at USD 2.92, up from its 52-week low of USD 1.90 a share a few weeks ago, but down dramatically from its 52-week high of USD 16.80.
A Suntech source said: "We indeed have the intention to talk with Akeena about any acquisition possibility. In the meantime, we now have enough funds to do some overseas acquisitions." The source declined to disclose whether Suntech has appointed a financial advisor for the possible acquisition of Akeena.
Wuxi-based Suntech, which has a USD 2.17bn market cap, had 2007 net income of USD 171m.
A Kyocera company insider said the Kyoto-based company does not have immediate M&A plans, but could always look for M&A opportunities to expand its sales channels and technological expertise, adding that it could grow its solar business in North America.
A Japanese analyst said Kyocera’s first priority is to improve its financial situation and given this could not look for M&A opportunities. However, the analyst could not rule out the possibility of Kyocera speaking to Akeena about its solar business.
Kyocera posted group sales of about JPY 1.2trn (USD 12bn) in the year ended in March 2008 and its market capitalization is about JPY 1trn (USD 10bn). 

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