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Hoku Corp. lays off 100 at unfinished Idaho polysilicon plant


Honolulu-based Hoku Corp. said today it has halted construction at its Idaho polysilicon plant and laid off 100 workers there due to financial difficulties at the company.

Hoku officials also said several construction companies that filed liens against the company for unpaid debts have begun foreclosure proceedings against Hoku in the Idaho courts.

As of March 31 Hoku Corp. listed liabilities of $278.8 million, including $74.4 million of accounts payable at its Hoku Materials subsidiary that is building the Idaho polysilicon plant. Hoku Corp. also listed cash of $7.7 million and other assets of $6.7 million.

Hoku has suffered from falling polysilicon prices. Polysilicon is one of the main components used in photovoltaic panels.

Hoku Corp. also announced that it closed a subsidiary formed recently to market and sell solar modules in North America. Hoku said it plans to continue operations at one of its other subsidiaries, Hoku Solar, which designs and sells photovoltaic systems in Hawaii.

Hoku Corp., which is majority owned by China-based Tianwei New Energy Holdings Co., also said it received an additional loan from the New York branch of China Merchant’s Bank. The loan will be used to fund working capital requirements while the company pursues a restructuring strategy, according to Scott Paul, Hoku Corp. chief executive officer.

Paul also said that Hoku has retained Los Angeles-based Imperial Capital to assist in the restructuring effort.
Hoku stock closed down 3 cents at 20 cents a share on the Nasdaq Global Market.

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