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Crystalox Solar heads for £50 million IPO

May 10, 2007 //

Silicon ingots specialist PV Crystalox Solar plans to raise £50 million in June to finance construction of a polysilicon manufacturing plant in Germany. The company supplies ingots to makers of solar panels.

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LONDON Silicon ingots specialist PV Crystalox Solar plans to raise 50 million in June to finance construction of a polysilicon manufacturing plant in Germany. The company supplies ingots to makers of solar panels.

The IPO, on London's main market, is expected to value Crystalox (Wantage, England) at 500 million, making it one of the largest in the U.K. dealing in renewable energy.

Crystalox will be selling new and existing shares. Former and current members of the management, led by chief executive Iain Dorrity, own 84 percent of the company. The rest of the shares are held largely by venture capitalists.

The company was formed in 1982 after researchers perfected a technique for making multicrystalline technology on an industrial scale. It is now one of the largest suppliers of silicon to solar panel makers Sharp and Schott Solar. It exports around three-quarters of its output to Japan and the remainder to Europe, via a factory in Erfurt, Germany.

The silicon ingots are made in a factory in Wantage, with the majority of the output shipped to Japan, where it is sold either as ingots or as wafers after processing by a sub-contractor. The remainder of the ingots are processed into wafers for European customers at the existing plant in Erfurt.

The German facility is also a centre of R&D where the company is developing wire saw technology so as to make thinner wafers.

The new facility will start operating in 2009 with initial output of 900 metric tonnes, doubling to 1,800 metric tonnes in 2011. Construction will cost around 52 million, and the company said the project is eligible for government grants of Euros 20 million (13.5 million).

Currently, the company sources its silicon from a variety of sources, and says the new facility would ensure a lower cost source of supply.

"PV Crystalox Solar has a long and successful history as one of the world's leading manufacturers of solar-grade silicon products. Over the last five yearswe have been consistently profitable, trebling our sales and continuing to grow our margins", said Dorrity. According to a regulatory filing prepared for the listing on the London exchange, Crystalox Solar had revenues of Euros 242 million (164 million) for the year ended 31 December 2006, an increase of 32 percent over the previous year. Pre tax profits were Euros 49 million ( 33 million), a 56 percent increase over that achieved in 2005.

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