Applied Materials Restructures Solar Equipment Business


As challenging conditions continue in the solar manufacturing equipment sector, Applied Materials has announced changes to its PV business segment.

Applied's board of directors has approved a plan that is intended to reduce the company's break-even revenue levels for its energy and environmental solutions group to $500 million in fiscal-year 2013.

Applied will relocate manufacturing for its Precision Wafering System (PWS) solar business – currently based in Cheseaux, Switzerland – to Asia, according to a statement filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

PWS business operations and customer support functions will be relocated primarily to Treviso, Italy (the headquarters for its Baccini cell systems) and Xi'an, China, the site of Applied's Solar Technology Center. PWS' headquarters and new product development will remain in Switzerland.

Up to 250 positions are expected to be cut as a result of the restructuring, according to the SEC statement.

The total estimated pre-tax cost of implementing the plan is expected to be in the range of approximately $70 million to $100 million, or $0.04 to $0.06 per share, which will be incurred over the next 12 to 18 months, beginning in the third quarter of fiscal 2012.

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