Solar moves: AMAT buying Swiss wafer firm, signs Taiwan customer

June 26, 2007 – A pair of deals announced today serve to bolster Applied Materials’ foothold in the solar market: a $475 million acquisition of a Swiss maker of wafering systems, and a new thin-film solar module customer in Taiwan.

Under terms of today’s M&A deal, AMAT will pay CHF ~583 million (US ~$475 million) in cash for privately held HCT Shaping Systems SA, a supplier of precision wafering systems used principally in manufacturing crystalline silicon (c-Si) substrates, which represent ~90% of today’s solar panel production.

HCT’s systems section silicon ingots into thin substrates to be made into c-Si solar cells, allowing customers to reduce their silicon usage. The company’s technology also includes products for squaring and cropping ingots and for slurry recovery. Applied says this will enhance silicon utilization of its own tools, which form atomically thin layers of silicon directly from gases onto a glass substrate.

Adding HCT’s technology expands AMAT’s options in the c-Si photovoltaic sector, and will ultimately help customers drive down cost/watt of solar power for c-Si and thin film applications, according to AMAT president/CEO Mike Splinter, commenting in a statement.

“HCT’s technology and roadmap to reduce wafer thickness are critical to improving material utilization and will complement our high throughput c-Si ATON deposition system, enabling customers to scale up production and reduce cost,” added Mark Pinto, SVP and GM of Applied’s new business and new products group, in a statement.

Meanwhile, Applied says it has won a contract to deliver a thin-film solar module production line to Green Energy Technology Inc. Ltd., Taiwan’s largest producer of solar wafers, for its planned solar fab in TaouYuan. The fully integrated line of equipment is expected to be installed in 1H08 with production expected later in the year at the site, which will have a nominal rated capacity of 40MW/year, according to AMAT.


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