May 29 2010
SunPower Corp. (Nasdaq: SPWRA, SPWRB), a Silicon Valley-based manufacturer of high-efficiency solar cells, solar panels and solar systems, today announced a definitive agreement to form a joint venture (JV) with AU Optronics Corp. (TAIEX: 2409; NYSE: AUO), a leading global manufacturer of thin-film transistor liquid-crystal displays (TFT-LCD) based in Taiwan.
The JV will own and operate SunPower's 1.4 gigawatt third solar cell fabrication facility (Fab 3), now under construction in Malaysia. SunPower and AUO will equally own the JV and contribute equal capital funding.
"AUO's proven ability to rapidly scale advanced manufacturing technology while driving consistent, aggressive cost reduction makes them the ideal partner to help SunPower ramp Fab 3," said Tom Werner, SunPower's CEO. "We expect this JV will reduce our effective Fab 3 capital expense per watt by more than 35 percent while capitalizing on AUO's world-class manufacturing expertise to reduce solar cell manufacturing costs. As a result of SunPower's downstream channel investments, demand has been rapidly increasing for our differentiated high-efficiency solar panels and systems. We believe that this JV will enable us to produce more megawatts faster, at lower cost, with substantially less cash contribution from SunPower."
"It is our great pleasure to work with SunPower," said K.Y. Lee, Chairman of AUO. "This joint venture sets a remarkable milestone for AUO's solar business. SunPower leads the solar industry with the world's highest efficiency technology for solar cells. With the Fab 3 JV, we will join our strengths to maximize our competitiveness and long-term benefits. Customers worldwide will profit from the synergy of vertical integration and scale for their solar investments."
SunPower will host a conference call to discuss this announcement today, Thursday, May 27 at 8:15 a.m. Eastern Time. The call-in number is 517-623-4618, passcode SunPower. The event will also be webcast and can be accessed live or via archive from SunPower's website at: https://us.sunpower.com/.