Dark days ahead for Meyer Burger employees

Fast-growing Swiss solar equipment maker Meyer Burger has announced it will cut 450 jobs out of just over 3,000 after its profit tumbled 63 per cent last year, with a poor outlook for 2012.

This content was published on March 22, 2012 - 17:03 and agencies

The maker of production equipment for solar cells said full-year profit fell to SFr35.8 million ($39.16 million) from SFr97.9 million in 2010. It also took a SFr107 million write-down linked to its acquisition of German peer Roth & Rau.

Already announced in February, 200 of the 1,350 jobs at the German company will go in production, sales and services as Meyer Burger consolidates its units. Between 40 and 60 positions will also be slashed in Thun, but there should be no cuts at factories in Lyss and Neuchâtel.

In addition to photovoltaics, Meyer Burger is involved in the semiconductor and sapphire/optoelectronics industries.

Meyer Burger bought Roth & Rau after Japan's nuclear disaster last year, when solar stocks were soaring as governments pledged more cash for the renewable energy industry. Its shares have dropped almost 70 per cent since a high at the end of April.

Solar companies in Europe and the United States have grappled with a toxic mix of overcapacity, falling prices, low-cost Asian competition and lower government subsidies on which much of the industry depends.

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