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LDK Solar still in talks with lenders, shares fall

Employees inspect and sort solar panels into different quality categories at an LDK Solar company workshop in Hefei, Anhui province in this
Employees inspect and sort solar panels into different quality categories at an LDK Solar company workshop in Hefei, Anhui province in this

By Kanika Sikka and Swetha Gopinath

(Reuters) - LDK Solar Co Ltd reported its eighth quarterly loss in a row and said it was still in talks with its lenders and investors to refinance its roughly $3 billion of debt, sending its shares down more than 10 percent.

LDK is one of the most heavily indebted Chinese solar companies, with a majority of its debt due next year.

The company, which said it hoped to complete its restructuring within 30 days, disclosed in April that it was in talks to refinance its debt after partially defaulting on a $24 million bond payment.

"We are working closely with our stakeholders and relevant governmental agencies to negotiate solutions," Chief Executive Xingxue Tong said in a statement on Tuesday.

LDK said important investors including China Development Bank Corp were going through a restructuring proposal.

CDB and creditors of China-based banks are offering a credit facility of 2 billion yuan ($326 million), including 440 million yuan for a polysilicon plant and 1.56 billion yuan for working capital, a company executive said on a post-earnings call.

"LDK is largely dependent on getting a Beijing bailout and what happened to Suntech certainly doesn't bode well," said Raymond James analyst Alex Morris.

Bigger rival Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd's Chinese lenders dragged the company's main unit into insolvency proceedings in March after it defaulted on $541 million in bonds, although it was able to strike a deal with 60 percent of the noteholders.

LDK ended the first quarter with $174.1 million in cash and cash equivalents and $168.4 million in short-term pledged bank deposits.

JOB CUTS CONTINUE

LDK said it laid off 1,677 employees in the first quarter. Including the job cuts disclosed on Tuesday, LDK has laid off nearly 15,000 people in the past year.

It had 8,168 employees as of March 31.

Chinese panel makers are looking to cut costs and bolster margins after a glut caused by rapid capacity expansion in China and top solar power consumer Europe's withdrawal of subsidies led to a prolonged slump in panel prices.

The company said it expected second-quarter wafer shipments of between 250 megawatts (MW) and 300 MW. It forecast cell and module shipments of 30 MW to 40 MW.

LDK shipped 240 MW of wafers and 31.4 MW of cells and modules in the first quarter.

The company expects its revenue to be in the range of $100 million to $150 million in the second quarter. Revenue nearly halved to $104.3 million in the first quarter.

LDK's net loss widened to $187.1 million, or $1.21 per American Depositary Share (ADS), from $185.2 million, or $1.46 per ADS, a year earlier.

The company's U.S.-listed shares fell to $1.46 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday.

(Editing by Supriya Kurane and Don Sebastian)

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