US solar company SunEdison, facing heavy scrutiny over its accounting and its failed USD 2.2 billion acquisition of Vivint Solar, filed for bankruptcy protection today. SunEdison said it obtained USD 300 million in financing to keep operations running while it reorganizes over USD 10 billion of debt in federal bankruptcy court in New York. “Our decision to initiate a court-supervised restructuring was a difficult but important step to address our immediate liquidity issues,” said chief executive Ahmad Chatila.
“The court process will allow us to right-size our balance sheet and reduce our debt, providing the opportunity to support the business going forward while focusing on our core strengths.” Founded in 1984, SunEdison grew rapidly via acquisition and joint-ventures that included owning in wind power as well as solar operations in far-flung destinations including India and Chile. Its market capitalization reached a peak of USD 17.5 billion in 2007. The company lost favor with investors due to skepticism at a proposed USD 2.2 billion purchase of Vivint Solar, which would have expanded SunEdison’s operations into rooftop and residential solar energy.
SunEdison was unable to win financing to close the transaction, leading Vivint to cancel the deal in March and launch litigation against SunEdison. In March, SunEdison disclosed that it received a subpoena from the US Department of Justice seeking information on a wide variety of topics, including a former employee “alleged to have committed wrongdoing” in connection with the Vivint deal; intercompany transactions between SunEdison and its subsidiaries; financing of projets in Uruguay and the company’s accounting after it reclassified more than USD700 million in debt. SunEdison’s top shareholders include OppenheimerFunds, BlackRock, Vanguard and Adage Capital Partners.