University | 10:18 am | March 22, 2013 | By Sophie Gould

Solar power company declares bankruptcy

A subsidiary of a Chinese solar power company highlighted in Yale’s 2009 annual investment report declared bankruptcy Thursday.

The Yale Investments Office profiled Suntech Power Holdings Co. — once the world’s largest supplier of solar panels — in a two-page spread on “green investments in emerging markets” in 2009. It is not clear whether Yale still owns stocks in the company, but the University is not listed as one of the top 10 institutional investors on Suntech’s public filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the 10th largest institutional investor listed owns only 0.55 percent of the company.

Suntech defaulted on a $541 million bond payment last week, causing several cross-defaults on other loans and leading a group of bondholders to consider suing the company, according to The Wall Street Journal. Yale is not required to release information on whether the University holds specific companies’ debt.

Suntech’s stock prices peaked at $85.16 in December 2007 and dropped precipitously during the financial downturn, to $1.88 in June 2012. Shares were valued at $0.44 as of Thursday.

In the 2009 investment report, the Yale Investments Office noted potential challenges for the future of the solar industry because of the surge in the number of new solar cell manufacturers.

“According to industry research, solar panel output is expected to increase 62 percent from 2008 to 2009, while installed panels are only expected to increase 10.5 percent,” the report said.

Still, the 2009 report said that Shi Zhengron, the founder of Suntech, remained optimistic about his company’s long-term market position, and cited the company’s “culture of cost consciousness and innovation.”

Though demand for new solar cells has continued to grow in China over the past few years, demand has declined in the rest of the world. The solar energy sector has suffered from overcapacity, according to the Financial Times.

Yale’s endowment was valued at $19.3 billion as of June 30, 2012.

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