From Silicon Valley to Main Street, firms say SunEdison owes money

Mon Apr 4, 2016 2:39pm EDT
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By Nichola Groom

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Businesses ranging from Silicon Valley venture capitalists to a small Massachusetts solar installer say they are owed money by SunEdison Inc, underscoring the breadth of a breakneck expansion seen contributing to the solar and wind energy company's financial woes.

Two dozen legal claims have been made since the beginning of the year against SunEdison and its executives, mainly from shareholders who claim the company misled them about its financial position, a review of cases on Westlaw showed.

None of the lawsuits reviewed have yet been adjudicated, nor have the claims been validated. Most are too recent for SunEdison to have filed a response to, and the company did not respond to requests for comment.

SunEdison also faces a major lawsuit from solar installer Vivint Solar Inc for failing to complete its $1.9 billion acquisition of the company. In its annual filing in March last year it disclosed only two significant lawsuits.

Roughly half a dozen suits filed since February for breach of contract claims from partners and suppliers offer a window into the reach of SunEdison. In just a few years, the maker of silicon "wafers" for solar cells has transformed itself into the world's fastest growing renewable energy developer, taking on projects as small as a family home or as big as a desert solar array.

SunEdison's shares have fallen about 98 percent over the past 12 months. It faces a cash crunch, a $12 billion debt pile, and scrutiny from U.S. regulators over a failed deal, among other issues. [ID: nL3N1735EJ]

The breadth of partner lawsuits showed the results of an "out of control shopping spree" in 2014 and 2015, said Pavel Molchanov, an analyst who follows the solar industry for Raymond James.

"This was expansion on steroids and obviously we are seeing how that movie is ending very badly because the company is struggling to keep up with its bills," Molchanov said.   Continued...

Solar panels of local mining company CAP, which were installed by SunEdison, are seen in the Atacama Desert, in this June 5, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Fabian Andres Cambero/Files