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Solar power: one processor buys three companies, another invests in its own solar array

Three acquisitions announced this week give the Greiner Group entry into a new business field, the market for renewable energies and solar thermal energy, where it hopes to profit from its plastics processing prowess. In related news, custom injection and blowmolder Microdyne Plastics recently installed 2600 solar panel units on the company's roof, an investment its management expects will reduce future energy costs by 35%.

The Greiner Group's companies include one of Europe's largest plastics packaging processors, which also recently opened its first processing site in the Americas, and also includes one of the world's top manufacturers of profile extrusion tooling. Greiner's other business units include ones for processing of polyurethane for insulation, and Greiner Bio-One, which makes and markets preanalytics (blood and urine sampling systems) and products for pharmaceutical research and the diagnostics industry.

For Greiner (Kremsmünster, Austria), the move into solar energy is a bet both on the future of alternative energy and on plastics' use in solar panels. "By taking on these three companies we have taken a first clear stride to terms of our corporate strategies of opening up new markets and developing further through the power of innovation," commented Axel Kühner, CEO of Greiner Holding AG.

The three acquired companies-Xolar GmbH and Sun Master Energiesysteme GmbH of Eberstalzell and SOLution Beteiligungs GmbH of Sattledt, all Austria-will be integrated in Greiner Technology & Innovation, a new division in the holding company. Greiner Technology & Innovation already is active in a project at the university in Linz, Austria focused on the development of solar collectors made from plastic. "We are convinced that the integration of Xolar, Sun Master and SOLution in Greiner Technology & Innovation is a further stride forwards for the sustained growth of the Group," said Hannes Möseneder, CEO of Greiner Technology & Innovation GmbH.

Sun Master produces solar collectors for OEM sales. Xolar's business is the direct sale and installation of solar collectors. The two companies together employ about 133 and had a turnover of €21.8 million in 2010, but were insolvent. The third company acquired, SOLution, is a specialist in assembly and sale of solar plants. SOLution has a staff of 40 and turnover of about €17 million in 2010. Greiner acquired 80% of the shares in both Sun Master and Xolar, and current owner the Huemer family will continue to hold a 20% share in the two companies. Greiner is to invest €5 million as a shareholder capital contribution, which will be used to assure the continued operations of Xolar and Sun Master. Herbert Huemer, founder of Xolar and Sun Master, will continue to serve as R&D manager. Greiner will take on 90% of the shares in SOLution, with 10% remaining in the hands of former proprietors Gerald Jungreithmayr and Andrea Dober. An investment of €4 million will be made for the takeover of SOLution. The former proprietors will stay with the company in management. The takeovers of all three are subject to anti-trust authority approval.

Meanwhile, injection and blowmolder Microdyne Plastics (Inland Empire, CA) recently unveiled a new solar array on its processing facility. Founded in 1975, the company employs more than 100 and has annual revenue of more than $10 million.
 
The 2600 solar panel units are expected to reduce future energy costs by 35%, according to Microdyne chief executive and founder Ron Brown. The project was funded by a combination of money from the City of Colton, CA and the Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The total cost of the project was more than $4 million. The project is also the largest solar installation in the city's history.
 
The unveiling ceremony was attended by local political representatives including Stephen Wall, congressional representative for Rep. Joe Baca's office; Frances Vasquez, field representative from San Bernardino County Supervisor Josie Gonzalez's office; and Colton Mayor David Zamora. Also in attendance was Alfred Chan, regional sales manager, SolarMax Technology Inc., the company that manufactures the solar panels.

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