Dutch Solar Systems (DSS), located in Enschede, is negotiating with the insolvency administrator, Markus Plathner, to take over German collector manufacturer Wagner & Co Solartechnik, as the Managing Director of the Dutch wholesaler and project planning company for photovoltaic, solar thermal and heat recovery systems, Brigitte van Egten, confirmed to German newsletter Solarthemen. Wagner, which was founded in 1979, filed for bankruptcy on 22 April 2014. The details of the proposed deal are still sketchy: No contracts were signed until the editorial deadline on 4 September, although the takeover date had originally been set to 1 September.
So far, DSS has been a customer of Wagner in terms of its solar thermal product range: The company had the Hessian manufacturer produce DSS’s standard collector as an OEM product. This collector has primarily found its way into the small drain-back solar systems that are typical for the Dutch market. When it came to larger projects, DSS often used the large-scale collectors of its German business partner. It is the reason why van Egten assures that she well knows what to expect from the manufacturer: “We have a lot of experience in dealing with Wagner. We hold the company and its products in the highest regard.” When talking about Wagner like this, van Egten not only speaks for herself but also for the investor behind DSS, Dutch entrepreneur and founder Gerard Sanderink. His company group, which had originally focused on the IT field and also includes DSS, generates a turnover of around EUR 2.5 billion each year.
Wagner to keep both business areas – solar thermal and photovoltaics
From the perspective of the insolvency manager, the offer from Enschede has the advantage that Wagner is said to be kept as it is – with both the photovoltaic and the solar thermal business intact, including production, project management and sales. Until recently, Wagner had 150 employees working in various departments: production of collectors and assembly systems, as well as PV wholesale across the country and overseas. It may well be impossible to keep all employees, van Egten says, and this is something for the still ongoing negotiations. But in general, the intent is to acquire Wagner as a whole.
In contrast, the second option, the buyout attempt by Wagner employees, is off the table. The employees established a cooperative in hopes of taking over Wagner. Faced with a much more powerful competitor, the cooperative’s members decided during a general assembly at the end of August not to present their own bid to the insolvency manager. “We did not muster enough money,” the spokesperson of the initiative, Christof Geiger, explains. The cooperative, however, is said not to be dissolved after losing out to DSS. In the future, it may help set up regional energy projects.
This news was written by Guido Bröer, founder and co-editor of German newsletter Solarthemen, which covers all renewable energy technologies twice each month. www.solarthemen.de