As part of the cooperation with Oxford PV, Meyer Burger has received orders totaling CHF 38.5 million for HJT production lines, including the upgrade for perovskite tandem cell production. In addition, the group has received two major orders from Asian customers for its MAiA cell coating equipment totaling CHF 24.5 million.
“Business development in 2019 was disappointing,” said Hans Brändle, CEO of Meyer Burger. “Sales and margins in the bulk business remained below our expectations. This reflects the difficult market environment due to increasingly strong Chinese competition and the Chinese government’s goals set out in the ‘Made in China 2025’ strategic plan.
“Against the backdrop of these market dynamics, we continued, in the reporting year, to undertake a strategic realignment of Meyer Burger,” Brindle added. “That is to say, we are focusing on the marketing and ongoing development of our own heterojunction/SmartWire connection technologies as well as the highly promising tandem cell technology, a combination of heterojunction and perovskite. As a result of our strategic refocusing, we have restructured and divested business units and assets that no longer form part of our core business. Thereby we further reduced our fixed cost base and improved the efficiency of the organization. Our financial key figures reflect the ongoing transformation of the Group and the divestments.”
Net sales reached CHF 262 million (2018: CHF 407 million). Adjusted for divestments and currency effects, the organic decline in sales for the continuing operations was 22.1%. Sales development accelerated in the second half of 2019 to CHF 139.4 million from CHF 122.6 million in the first half of 2019.
Due to the decline in sales, under-utilization of capacities and restructuring cost, EBITDA was below the level achieved in the previous year and totaled CHF -13.5 million in the fiscal year 2019 (2018, restated: CHF +26.8 million). The EBITDA margin was -5.1% in 2019 compared to 6.6% in 2018. The result at the EBIT level amounted to CHF -28.6 million (2018, restated: CHF +2.4 million).
Meyer Burger generated a net loss of CHF -39.7 million in the fiscal year 2019 (2018: CHF -59.4 million). The net result per share was CHF -0.06 (2018: CHF -0.10).
Changes in Group Management
With the focusing on the core business and the successful market introduction of the heterojunction/SmartWire technology, Brändle has decided to retire from his position by end of March 2020.
“Hans Brändle has initiated the consistent focus of Meyer Burger on our key technologies heterojunction/SmartWire and successfully completed the transformation of the Group. Meyer Burger is now optimally positioned to benefit from its technology lead in the future,” said Dr. Remo Lütolf, chairman of the Board of Directors of Meyer Burger.
The Board of Directors appoints Dr. Gunter Erfurt as new CEO of the Meyer Burger Group. Currently CTO of Meyer Burger, Erfurt has been instrumental in the development and successful launch of Meyer Burger's heterojunction technology. The physicist Erfurt joined Meyer Burger in 2015 and has almost 20 years of experience in the global photovoltaic business, including several years with SolarWorld.
"Gunter Erfurt is a highly respected industry expert with a proven track record in PV technology. He has been closely involved in the strategic realignment of Meyer Burger and is the right choice to lead the company into the new eram" Lütolf said.
The medium- and long-term growth outlook for the solar industry has continued to improve against the backdrop of current concerns over climate change. Solar power is the most affordable technology in many regions today. REC's successful production ramp-up and the globally recognized launch of its ALPHA modules is proof of Meyer Burger's leading heterojunction/SmartWire technology.
Change in the Chairmanship of the Board of Directors
Dr. Lütolf has decided not to stand for re-election to the Board of Directors at the forthcoming Annual General Meeting.
"Meyer Burger needs peace and confidence to take the next major step in its development. I have come to the conclusion that the company needs fresh personalities to meet these challenges. A new chairman, in addition to Gunter Erfurt as the new CEO, will accelerate this growth momentum," said Lütolf.
Changes in the Board of Directors
The talks announced in January between Meyer Burger and its largest shareholder Sentis Capital PPC have now developed into a constructive dialogue. Both parties regret the action taken and statements made in connection with the Extraordinary Shareholders’ Meeting in October 2019, which also revealed that the reservations expressed to Petr Kondrashev regarding his business conduct and the risk of sanctions by the US authorities have not been confirmed.
“Meyer Burger has reached out to Sentis. Sentis stands behind Meyer Burger in a committed manner and sees great opportunities to create significant and sustainable company value thanks to the unique heterojunction/SmartWire technology," said Anton Karl of Sentis Capital PPC. In order to integrate this important investor's voice, the Board of Directors of Meyer Burger will propose to the upcoming Annual General Meeting the election of Mark Kerekes from Sentis Capital PPC as shareholder representative on the Board of Directors.