MEMC Electronic Materials Inc. says it will take a series of actions during the fourth quarter of 2011 and the first quarter of 2012 to reduce its workforce and its global production capacities. The company cited current market and expected future market conditions as the reason behind the changes.
MEMC will reduce its total workforce by over 1,300 persons worldwide, approximately 20% of the company's employees. Of the reductions, approximately 250 positions are in the U.S., and an estimated 47% are in the solar materials segment.
The company intends to idle its Merano, Italy, polysilicon facility (up to 6,000 metric tons of annual capacity) and may close it unless ‘dramatic feedstock, power and other cost reductions’ are achieved in the near term. MEMC will also reduce production capacity at its Portland, Ore., crystal facility and will limit the ramp of its Kuching, Malaysia, wafering facility to 300 MW.
Additionally, MEMC's solar materials business unit and SunEdison operating segment will be consolidated into a single unit, called the solar energy business unit, effective Jan. 1, 2012. In all, the company expects annualized cashflow benefits to exceed $200 million by the end of 2012 through labor productivity, procurement savings and a more efficient asset base.
‘Changed market conditions require that we improve productivity across all segments and in solar move to a more balanced manufacturing model aligned with our downstream business,’ says CEO Ahmad Chatila.