Applied Materials has announced an agreement to acquire Baccini S.p.A., a leading supplier of automated metallization and test systems for manufacturing crystalline silicon (c-Si) photovoltaic (PV) cells. This integrated equipment set addresses critical processing steps in c-Si solar cell production that significantly affect solar cell efficiency and yield, while enabling the use of ultrathin silicon wafers.
Combining Baccini’s products and technologies with Applied’s semiconductor interconnect processing expertise, manufacturing capabilities, and R&D resources will provide customers with world-class, automated production technology for fabricating advanced c-Si solar cells.
Baccini is a privately-held company founded in 1967 and based in Treviso, Italy. Baccini’s product line provides state-of-the-art material handling automation capable of processing wafers less than 120 micrometers thick, which are significantly thinner than those typically used in the industry. Reliable processing of ultrathin wafers is key to next-generation c-Si manufacturing because it will allow customers to minimize the use of silicon material, which now represents more than 60% of solar cell manufacturing cost.
“With this acquisition, Applied will become a leading provider of c-Si cell manufacturing solutions to the PV industry,” said Mike Splinter, president and CEO of Applied Materials. “As a key supplier to both the c-Si and thin film solar markets, we are committed to driving down the cost and ramping up the scale of PV manufacturing to make solar energy competitive with grid electricity. We are especially excited by the opportunity to engage in key efforts to meet this challenge in Italy – a country with strong geographic potential for realizing early grid parity.”
Under the visionary leadership of its founder and chairman, Gisulfo Baccini, the company has had a strong history of innovation to enable its customers’ success, from delivering the PV industry’s first integrated metallization line over 20 years ago to its current market-leading portfolio of systems and fully-automated lines for high volume c-Si cell production.
“Baccini and Applied share an enterprising spirit and both have a 40-year history of delivering innovative, highly-efficient and productive products,” said Mr. Baccini. “The integration of Baccini’s technology with Applied’s process, production and manufacturing expertise will provide new capabilities to enable world-class solar solutions for our global customers.”
Under the terms of the agreement, Applied will pay €225 million (or approximately US$330 million at the current exchange rate) in cash for all of the outstanding shares of Baccini. Completion of the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including receipt of certain non-U.S. regulatory approvals. The parties expect to close the transaction in early 2008.