AU Optronics Corp. ("AUO" or the "Company") (TAIEX: 2409; NYSE: AUO) held a meeting of the Board of Directors on May 27, 2010, at which the Board approved the resolution of a joint venture to construct and operate a solar cell manufacturing facility in Malaysia with SunPower Corp., the largest manufacturer of residential and commercial solar systems in the United States. The resolution was passed in view of the need to accelerate the setup of a complete solar value chain to meet the rapidly growing market demands. The strategic alliance with SunPower, the manufacturer of the world's highest efficiency solar cells commercially available, is AUO's latest endeavor in the solar business since the acquisition of over 50% the shareholding of M.Setek, the leading Japanese supplier of upstream polysilicon and wafers. The collaboration will establish a new solar business model featuring cost efficiency and leading technology in the development of high efficiency solar cells. Meanwhile, by means of cooperation with SunPower in continuous process improvement, production and management, AUO will be able to produce more innovative products with higher conversion rates to better serve its customers.
The resolution adopted by the Board of Directors of the two parties for the joint investment was in view of SunPower's leading brand position on solar technology in the U.S. market, its twenty-five years of experience in R&D, intellectual property related to high efficiency solar cells, and AUO's core competence in global manufacturing, management and securing of the material source. The joint investment in Malaysia will be US$700 million. AUO and SunPower will each contribute US$350 million over several installments, owning 50% of the shareholding respectively.
SunPower is a global leader in the manufacturing and development of solar cells with a minimum rated efficiency of 22%, the highest efficiency commercially available now. The company possesses the highest market share in the U.S. for residential, commercial & public sector and large-scale utility projects. It is as well a market leader in Germany, Italy and Spain. "It is our great pleasure to work with SunPower," said K.Y. Lee, Chairman of AUO. "This joint venture sets a remarkable milestone for AUO's solar business. SunPower leads the solar industry with the world's highest efficiency technology for solar cells. With the joint venture, we will join our strength to maximize competiveness and long-term benefits. Customers worldwide will profit from the synergy of vertical integration and scale for their solar investments."
"AUO's proven ability to rapidly scale advanced manufacturing technology while driving consistent, aggressive cost effectiveness makes them the ideal partner to ramp up the future fab in Malaysia," said Tom Werner, SunPower's CEO. "AUO's professional strength in global operations, management and smart logistics will indeed add significant value for us. We believe that this world-class manufacturing alliance will establish SunPower as one of the leading solar cell technology platforms."