July 25, 2011 / 9:39 AM / in 6 years

RPT-UPDATE 2-Canadian Solar CFO quits; sees Q2 margin at lower end of estimate

(Repeats to add missing word in headline. Adds CFO change in paragraph 1, details on new, old CFO in paragraphs 2,3,4,7 CEO comment in paragraph 6, new CFO comment in last para)

* CFO Andrew Chen quits, Michael Potter named replacement

* Sees Q2 shipments of 295 MW, above earlier forecast

* Sees Q2 gross margin at lower end of 13-15 pct range

BANGALORE, July 25 (Reuters) - Canadian Solar Inc said its chief financial officer has quit and the solar module maker forecast its second-quarter gross margin at the lower end of its prior outlook.

The Ontario, Canada-based company said that Andrew Chen, who served as its CFO since October last year, has been replaced by Michael Potter, effective July 20.

Chen’s tenure as the finance head of the company coincided with an about 39 percent slide in its market value.

His resignation follows the exit of top-level executives at a number of solar companies, including at JA Solar , as the nascent industry gears up to face falling subsidies in key European markets such as Germany and Italy.

This has made them look at growing their presence in markets like the United States, China and India.

“(Potter‘s) extensive Asian and U.S. management experience, his understanding of financial transactions and his credibility with our investors will be of immediate help to Canadian Solar as we work to increase shareholder value,” CEO Shawn Qu said.

Potter, who earlier worked with Lattice Semiconductor Corp , became an independent director of Canadian Solar in September 2007.

MARGIN WORRY

Canadian Solar said it expects April-June shipments of about 295 megawatts (MW), above its earlier view of about 245-255 MW.

The increase in shipments forced the company, which has its in-house cell production plants, to buy more cells from outside. As a result, the company now sees its gross margin at the lower end of its prior guidance of 13-15 percent.

“The company is on track to achieve 2 gigawatts of vertical integration from wafer to cell and module at the beginning of 2012, with an industry leading cost structure,” Potter said. (Reporting by Renju Jose and Krishna N Das in Bangalore; Editing by David Holmes, Prem Udayabhanu)

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