Who stands behind Suniva's trade case?

E&E News

5/10/17

 

Suniva Inc. is an American solar manufacturer that has rocked the solar industry by asking the Trump administration to raise trade barriers against key imports. Cheap products originating from China, it said, are killing a "Buy America" company.

The reality is not so straightforward.

A bankruptcy filing that set the trade case in motion is signed by Suniva's Chinese president and four members of its board, who are also Chinese. In fact, Suniva is 63 percent owned by a Chinese conglomerate, Shunfeng International Clean Energy, and in bankruptcy has become deeply indebted to another Chinese company.

It's just one of several strange twists in Suniva's story that raises questions about who is in charge at Suniva, what motivated the company to file its momentous case and who stands to benefit if it wins.

Bankruptcy and trade filings paint the picture of a company that, deeply in debt and staring into the abyss, decided to pin its future on the trade equivalent of a Hail Mary pass.

It is using the scant funds available to shut down its two factories, one of which is nearly new after a $100 million expansion, and enter a state of hibernation for the next six months while the U.S. International Trade Commission and President Trump review its case. If it wins and imports become a lot more expensive, it believes it could restart operations and be a profitable company.

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