Experts: China Solar Giants Likely to Get State Bailouts

China’s $20 billion solar industry is avoiding loan defaults and mergers by taking aid from local governments, preserving jobs at money-losing companies such as LDK Solar Co., the world’s second-biggest maker of solar cells.

LDK agreed last month to sell a 19.9 percent stake to a renewable-energy investor part-owned by the city of Xinyu, home to its headquarters. Suntech Power Holdings Co. (STP), the world’s largest solar-panel maker, got a $32 million loan in September organized partly by Wuxi, the city where it’s based. The aid helps as the companies prepare to report combined 2012 losses of $987 million, analyst forecasts compiled by Bloomberg show.

The moves counter efforts by the central government to engineer mergers that create a handful of larger solar companies, said Jeremy Haft, founder of BChinaB Inc., a New York-based consulting company that specializes in Chinese business practices. The country has previously pushed consolidation to strengthen industries such as steel and coal.

Provincial governments mostly want solar manufacturers “to keep the lights on and not lay people off,” Haft said. “There are a lot of people unemployed” in China and local government officials don’t want to see solar factories close up, he said.

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