AU Optronics’s M.Setek Unit to Stop Making Polysilicon for Solar

(Bloomberg) — M.Setek Co., a Tokyo-based unit of the
electronics maker AU Optronics Corp. of Taiwan, will halt
production of polysilicon for the solar industry and take a
charge of 24.65 billion yen ($208 million) to write down assets.

The board decision was made because of changes to supply
and demand in the market that left M.Setek without a competitive
advantage, AU Optronics said in a statement to the Taiwan stock
exchange Friday. M.Setek will focus on production of ingots.

Polysilicon prices have plunged 83 percent in the past five
years, as larger manufacturers brought on capacity to feed the
booming market for photovoltaic panels. M.Setek didn’t rank
among the top 10 makers of polysilicon, which is the raw
material used to make most PV panels, according to data compiled
by Bloomberg.

“No volume polysilicon production by AUO was tracked during
the past couple of years, so this announcement is not
surprising,” said Wang Xiaoting, a Hong-Kong based analyst for
Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Polysilicon manufacturing is dominated by bigger producers
led by GCL-Poly Energy Holdings Ltd. of Hong Kong, Wacker Chemie
AG of Germany, OCI Co. Ltd. of South Korea and Hemlock
Semiconductor Corp. in the U.S.

An official at M.Setek’s plant in Fukushima prefecture in
northern Japan could not immediately comment. AUO, based in
Taiwan, holds 99.99 percent in M.Setek.

“More than 20 percent oversupply of polysilicon occurred in
2015, which was the intrinsic reason of a 30 percent drop of
spot price over the year,” Wang said by e-mail. “A polysilicon
glut is still anticipated for the new year and some expansion
plans especially those in China have been suspended.”

To contact the reporters on this story:
Grace Huang in Tokyo at xhuang66@bloomberg.net;
Chisaki Watanabe in Tokyo at cwatanabe5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net
Alex Morales

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