CORRECTED-Chinese local govt lends $32 mln to solar firm Suntech - report

Fri Sep 28, 2012 4:53am BST

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(Corrects yuan figure to U.S. dollar figure in headline)

SHANGHAI, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Banks in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, have extended new loans totalling 200 million yuan ($31.73 million) to locally headquartered solar power giant Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd, the Shanghai government-owned China Business News reported on Friday, citing anonymous sources.

Suntech, the world's largest maker of solar panels, whose shares hit a high of $90 in early 2008, runs the risk of being removed from the New York Stock Exchange for failing to keep the average closing price of its shares higher than $1 over the last 30 trading days as of Sept. 10, Suntech said in a statement on Sept. 21.

Shares in Suntech, like rivals JA Solar Holdings Co , Trina Solar Ltd and Yingli Green Energy Holding Co, have fallen sharply in the past three years as sales prices have tumbled, squeezed by declining demand in export markets and overcapacity at home.

Debt-laden Suntech's shares have also been hit after it said in July that its partner in a solar development fund might have defrauded it with a bogus collateral pledge of hundreds of millions of euros of German bonds.

Local governments that invested heavily in supporting the development of solar power companies in their regions now face the likelihood of big local unemployment problems if those firms collapse. Last week Suntech announced it would lay off around 1,500 people from one of its plants in Wuxi.

LDK Solar, which reported a second-quarter loss nearly three times bigger than a year earlier, has also recently received local government money. In July the government of Xinyu in Jiangxi province announced it would use taxpayer funds to pay off some of the company's loans.

Beijing has asked provinces to provide plans as to how they will increase solar energy in their power mix by 2015, and state media reported that China Development Bank is preparing plans to provide further credit support, but all of this help has caused complaints in the U.S. and Europe.

The U.S. imposed import duties on Chinese solar panels as of May, and an anti-dumping investigation against Chinese solar companies is underway in Europe. The erection of trade barriers against Chinese solar products would make it even more difficult for the industry to resolve its capacity and inventory gluts.

Local branches of Bank of China Ltd , Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd , Agricultural Bank of China Ltd , China Construction Bank Ltd and policy lender China Development Bank joined together to make the loan, the report said. ($1 = 6.3025 Chinese yuan) (Reporting by Pete Sweeney; Editing by Daniel Magnowski)

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