ABB swims against the tide to back solar

ABB (SIX: ABBN ) has reversed a negative trend in the solar energy sector recently by agreeing to purchase the world’s second largest inverter manufacturing firm for $1bn.

The Swiss industrial group ABB is to buy solar energy firm Power-One Inc. and is betting on growth in emerging markets reviving the sector’s recent misfortunes.
The world's biggest supplier of industrial motors and power grids said on Monday it had agreed to pay $6.35 per share in cash for Power-One, the world's second-largest maker of solar inverters that allow solar power to be fed into grids.

Subject to shareholder and regulatory approvals, the deal is expected to close in the second half of this year.

Siemens and Bosch have in recent months pulled their interest in the solar industry citing weak economies, subsidy cuts and price slumps.

ABB believe falling prices for solar systems and rising electricity costs meant solar panels are now a competitive source of energy.

"Solar is long term the fastest growing renewable generation market in the world. ABB believes in this market," ABB Discrete and Motion head Ulrich Spiesshofer said in a company video.

He said ABB was buying in this market now because it saw a shift in solar energy demand towards emerging markets, such as China and the Middle East.

Power-One employs almost 3,300 people, mainly in China, Italy, the United States and Slovakia and had sales of around $1bn in 2012.

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