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Solyndra Ditches IPO, Raises More Money

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For Solyndra, looks like going public isn’t such a good plan after all. The solar company says tonight it has opted to raise $175 million by selling convertible promissory notes to existing investors instead of doing an IPO. Last December, the company filed to go public on the Nasdaq and was aiming to raise as much as $300 million

The Fremont-based company, which makes panels with tubes lined with copper-indium-gallium-selenide cells, cites “going uncertainties in the public capital markets” for pulling the IPO:

“Given the ongoing uncertainties in the public capital markets, we elected to pursue alternative funding from our existing investor base. This funding allows us to address strong customer demand by maintaining our aggressive growth plans,” says Solyndra CEO Chris Gronet in a statement.

Solyndra joins a few other greentech companies that have withdrawn its IPO plans in recent months. Nobao Renewable Energy, a Shanghai company that builds geothermal energy systems to heat and cool buildings, gutted its march to the New York Stock Exchange earlier this month. Trony Solar, a maker of amorphous-silicon solar panels in Shenzhen, postponed its IPO dream last December. Meanwhile, Jinko Solar, a crystalline silicon solar panel maker in Shanghai, went public on the New York Stock Exchange last month and got a lukewarm reception. The shares stared at $11 and closed at $11.01 on the first day.

Solyndra says it will get the money it needs in the short-term by selling $175 million’s worth of convertible notes. The company’s statement goes on to say that its second manufacturing complex, which is under construction, should start churning out panels in the fourth quarter of this year, and that would be two months ahead of schedule. By the fourth quarter of 2011, Gronet says his company should reach an annualized production of more than 300 megawatts, which is a scale big enough for the company to “substantially reduce” its manufacturing costs.

The company has shown a big appetite for investments to run its operations and carry out factory expansion plans. Last year, the company won a whopping $535 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy, and that loan guarantee translated into a loan from the U.S. Treasury. Solyndra also announced $198 million in equity financing the day it broke ground on the new factory last September. As of last October, the company had raised about $970 million in equity.

Meanwhile, Solyndra’s filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission have shown that its manufacturing costs are much higher than many its competitors, though the company’s own mounting system designs are supposed to lead to lower installation costs than others. Back in April this year, company’s own auditor warned that the panel maker’s operating losses and $532.3 million in deficit, among others, raised questions about its ability to continue its operation.

25 Responses to “Solyndra Ditches IPO, Raises More Money”

  1. john marlin

    Envision Solar investor here. EVSI.OB recently had their IPO and should be making some big moves in the near future. They have a revolutionary ideas to produce and utilize solar energy using solar groves in huge parking lots, near commercial areas…..DUHHH, where energy is needed most. With designers to make them look good in commercial area, and the technology to make them efficient, the sky is the limit. Hopefully after a few small jobs(some have already been completed in San Diego), EVSI will start getting large scale and government contracts. VERY COMPELLING INVESTMENT OPP!

    Check out some of their plans in these short videos.

  2. The investors will make much more money if the company goes public when the market becomes more favorable. I can’t blame them.
    But it’s bad for the green industry and job creation. $300 million would have created much more green jobs than $175 million.
    Solyndra posted only 4 new jobs in June (as of June 27, 2010): Let’s hope it creates much more when the $175 is in the bank…

  3. Absolutely Shocked by Solyndra

    Have people lost their minds??

    Well, let me see. $970 mm equity invested, $535 mm DOE loan, now $175 mm additional investment. This is ~$1.7 BILLION !! invested. Holy Sh*t!

    How can they ever possibly recover this??

    Let’s be kind and say they magically get to $2/W cost (which is a big gift) and they are doubly magically able to sell their 11% panels at a ~30% gross margin, or $2.60/W vs. 15% crystalline panels selling TODAY for $1.70/W or First Solar 11% panels selling TODAY for $1.5/W.

    This is already stretching reality pretty far, but let’s suspend reality for the moment and fantasize they can do it.

    Even after they get the 300 MW ramp by end 2011 (read mid-2012), this is only $180 mm in gross margin and ~$120 mm in net income.

    Even if all these stars align, it will take them 14 YEARS!! just to repay the investment, not even considering the debt interest and outsized IRRs expected by the VCs.

    This bubble has to pop soon. Pulling the IPO was the first sign.

    People are waking up to the fact that you just can’t talk your way into an IPO any more, investors want to see the profit. Jerry McGuire rules!

    PS. to any pumpers out there, please, do not give us some story about 500MW, lower costs, etc. At best it shaves off a few years of the STILL DECADE-PLUS payback. I’m already being EXTREMELY generous on assumptions, and we ALL know Solyndra can never achieve and hold such margins in this ruthlessly competitive PV marketplace.