SunPower pauses its solar cell and module factories, reduces salaries and workweek

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SunPower, the high-efficiency solar module leader, announced that it is temporarily cutting executive pay, reducing the workweek for some employees, and that it has already idled its factories in the U.S., France, Malaysia, Mexico, and the Philippines in response to the impact of Covid-19.

SunPower’s Compensation Committee approved “additional temporary reductions in the base salaries of certain of its executive officers, superseding those previously approved and announced on March 25, 2020.” President Tom Werner and CEO Jeffrey Waters will be taking 50% paycuts and other senior staff will see a 35% reduction in their paychecks.

As we reported late last month, SunPower, already making an enormous corporate shift, announced steps it was taking to “help the company prudently manage its business during the current industry uncertainty relating to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

SunPower implemented:

  • a reduction in management salaries
  • a freezing of all hiring and merit increases
  • a reduction in capital expenditures

SunPower expects these actions to save up to $50 million in 2020. SunPower also withdrew its previously provided fiscal year 2020 financial guidance.

Late last year, SunPower announced it would be spinning off its high-efficiency manufacturing business into a new company, Maxeon Solar Technologies. Maxeon products have historically led the industry as the world’s highest-efficiency solar modules. Tianjin Zhonghuan Semiconductor, one of the world’s largest silicon wafer makers, is pouring $298 million into Maxeon Solar.

SunPower posted a profitable last-quarter and full-year 2019. SunPower finished 2019 with a net income of $22.2 million – compared to 2018, when it finished $811.1 million in the red.

The resilient 35-year-old company’s $55 million credit revolver remains undrawn, and it anticipates that its existing tax equity and debt capacity is sufficient to fund all projects throughout the remainder of 2020.

SunPower has more than 8,000 full-time employees worldwide, of which about 2,000 are in the U.S.

The company remains on track to complete its planned split into two independently focused pure-play solar companies by the end of the second quarter.