United Solar Ovonic headed for auction

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 1:07 pm on Thursday, March 29, 2012

United Solar Ovanic, which includes these plants in Greenville, will be auctioned April 24 in Detroit. — File photo

GREENVILLE — United Solar Ovonic is about to be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

USO filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Feb. 14, along with its parent company, Energy Conversion Devices (ECD).

On March 15, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan approved procedures for submitting bids for USO. The court also authorized debtors to enter into a “stalking horse agreement,” for the purpose of establishing a minimum acceptable bid at which to begin the auction.

Bids must be submitted by 5 p.m. April 17 to Honigman, Miller, Schwartz & Cohn in Detroit, Quarton Partners in Birmingham, Foley & Lardner in Detroit or Brown Rudnick in New York City, N.Y.
The auction will take place 10 a.m. April 24 at Honigman, Miller, Schwartz & Cohn in Detroit.

A hearing to approve the sale of USO will be noon May 2 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan in Detroit.

“It’s really just part of the sale process,” said USO Plant Manager Tim Kelley in Greenville. “Any qualified bids have to be in to us and submitted to the court. Then those qualified bids go through an auction process.”

Plans were announced in March 2006 to construct six solar panel manufacturing facilities in Greenville for a total of 1,200 new jobs.

In reality, four plants were created in two buildings and a total of 474 people were employed at the peak of operation.
Today, about 70 employees remain at USO and half of them are currently laid off while a buyer is sought. USO has not had productive operations since Nov. 6, 2011.

ECD and USO have incurred $263.2 million in debt due in 2013, in addition to “significant” legacy costs incurred over the past 50 years.

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