(Reuters) – French solar panel maker Photowatt faced collapse on Friday after its parent ATS Automation Tooling Systems Inc said the unit had begun proceedings to file for bankruptcy, blaming a drop in demand and tough competition.
Canada’s ATS failed to find a buyer for its struggling subsidiary last month against a backdrop of falling prices, squeezed profits and lower subsidies for solar power in Europe.
“We plan to separate the (Photowatt) solar assets within the next six months,” ATS Chief Executive Officer Anthony Caputo said in a statement.
Stiff competition from Asia has also hit the industry, leading to the high-profile collapse of U.S. Solyndra and a recent profit warning from First Solar Inc.
“(The) market is suffering from Chinese competitors that have never cut their prices so low,” Photowatt union representative Martine Rey said. She called on the French government to act to protect the unit’s 441 employees.
“We cannot allow the only French maker of solar panels to collapse without doing anything.”
(Reporting By Catherine Lagrange; Writing by Lionel Laurent, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)