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Solyndra's High-tech Plant To Be Sold 233

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the no-bailout-for-you dept.
Velcroman1 writes, quoting Fox News: "For sale: manufacturing and office facility with 411,618 square feet, state of the art electrical, air, and power distribution systems — and a troubled past. As part of its bankruptcy proceedings, Solyndra is reportedly very close to landing a buyer for its mammoth, high-tech production plant in Fremont, Calif. The listing agent recently gave Fox News a tour of what the new owners will get for their multi-million dollar investment. Now the once-bustling offices, conference rooms, and cubicles are eerily quiet as the facility is 'decommissioned,' according to Greg Matter with Jones Lang LaSalle realty. One wonders about the conversations held, and emails written, in the corner office formerly occupied by CEO Brian Harrison."
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Solyndra's High-tech Plant To Be Sold

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  • About the only entity that would want the place and equipment would be a PRC-controlled entity.

    While the bailout was bad, and I disagree with their funding, anything going out of the country would be worse.

    • A Chinese firm bought up an old car plant in the UK a few years back. Rather than taking over the site they just packed up all the equipment and assembly lines and moved them to China.

    • by Auroch (1403671)

      While the bailout was bad, anything going out of the country would be worse.

      Perhaps you could elaborate? Why would we want to retain unprofitable business (nevermind that solyndra was undercut by massive government subsidies in china)?

      The fact that something isn't profitable generally means that it won't produce... stuff. So why would we want to keep it around? What long term benefit would be gained, by competing in a market that has investors and developed products?

  • FAILURE (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 14, 2012 @08:22PM (#40001123)

    "One wonders about the conversations held, and emails written, in the corner office formerly occupied by CEO Brian Harrison."

    i'll give you the short version: "How can we milk the government for more money?!?"

    What a failure, so many better things that we could have done with that money.

    • "One wonders about the conversations held, and emails written, in the corner office formerly occupied by CEO Brian Harrison."

      Dear Mr. "O"....err, Mom and Dad,

      Things are going great. Need money for food and rent...please send some soon,

      Love Solyndra

    • CORRUPTION !! (Score:4, Informative)

      by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @01:04AM (#40002445) Journal

      What a failure, so many better things that we could have done with that money

      Truth to be told - this is not the only failure that the American government has funded

      Trillions and trillions of American Tax Dollars had been wasted in pet projects favored by politicians

      Those precious tax dollars gone to cronies of those politicians

      In other words, it's CORRUPTION in practice, but unfortunately, according to the American laws, it's not counted as "corruption"

      • by billstewart (78916) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @02:40AM (#40002681) Journal

        A lot of those failures have been projects that were labelled as "Success!", because they worked out well for the people receiving the money, regardless of whether they did any good for the taxpayers. It's not just the bombs that didn't explode or the ships that sank or airplanes that couldn't fly, it's also the bombs that successfully blew up targets they shouldn't have been dropped on, battleships we didn't need, and airplanes designed to fight the Cold War.

        This project really annoys me, though. My commute takes me right by the plant, usually at slow speeds waiting for the freeway exit, so I've been able to watch the construction from the beginning. At first there was no obvious work, just picketers complaining about non-union labor, then construction starting, then the building frame going up and the skin going on, and presumably work happening inside as well. And then instead of opening it's closed. I hope the potential buyers actually go through with it and do something useful with the factory.

      • by Auroch (1403671)

        What a failure, so many better things that we could have done with that money

        Truth to be told - this is not the only failure that the American government has funded

        ... yeah, I'm thinking your education could have used a little more money invested in it - especially considering the blatantly incorrect views you hold.

  • why can't the people in charge be forced to work themselves out of the whole. The whole bankruptcy concept seems way too much like a get out of jail free card.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Mullen (14656)

      Contrary to what Mitt Romney thinks, corporations are not people. The whole point of a corporation is to shield the owners (People) from losing everything they own if the company fails. There are benefits to this like not losing your house if your business goes under and negatives, like double taxation (The company pays taxes and then the owners pay taxes on their cut).

      The corporation should get investors to help get the company off the ground, but they don't have any liability in doing so. The Corporation

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Good god, do you get your news from SNL? His point was that Corporations are made up of people. Lots of people. People who pay taxes, send their kids to school, invest in their company, invest in others. His point was that Corporations are not faceless entities (which are easier to demonize-- you know, the big boogie man who'll get you if you don't vote for me?).

        • Re:but... (Score:4, Funny)

          by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Monday May 14, 2012 @09:08PM (#40001401)

          Good god, do you get your news from SNL? His point was that Corporations are made up of people. Lots of people.

          So, you are saying that what Romeny really meant was that Corporations are Soylent Green?

    • Re:but... (Score:5, Informative)

      by sqrt(2) (786011) on Monday May 14, 2012 @08:39PM (#40001217) Journal

      Without bankruptcy society would have no way of cutting losses and moving forward. Much more resources and labor would go into paying off debts that have no hope of ever getting repaid. There would be much less incentives to take risks on new ideas and innovations, and less money to do it with as the majority of money earned would be used for servicing debt. When someone or some entity is so in debt that they'll never be able to repay it all, the best thing for society as a whole is to wipe the slate clean and then not loan any more money to that entity for a time.

      It seems we only apply the last part to natural persons of the working and middle classes.

      • by Alex Belits (437) *

        Without bankruptcy society would have no way of cutting losses and moving forward.

        It's the other way around.

        Originally "entrepreneurs" were a risk sink of the society -- if they fail, they become poor, but no one else is affected, so even if very few of them succeed, there will be enormous empires built with economy of scale, unimpeded by failures of others.

        With bankruptcy, risk is distributed -- personally "entrepreneur" either wins or breaks even, but banks and occasionally government take losses. This, in its turn raises interest rates and devalues currency, thus losses are distribute

        • Originally "entrepreneurs" were a risk sink of the society -- if they fail, they become poor, but no one else is affected

          Apart from their creditors, you mean?

          personally "entrepreneur" either wins or breaks even

          Not if he's invested some of his own money.

          banks and occasionally government take losses. This, in its turn raises interest rates and devalues currency

          By what mechanism?

          • by Alex Belits (437) *

            Apart from their creditors, you mean?

            Their creditors are banks -- if more loans default, they jack up interest rates so other people will pay for it.

            Not if he's invested some of his own money.

            And when does this happen at any significant scale?

            By what mechanism?

            See above. Failures now mean higher interest rates later (unless they are already calculated into risks so it means higher interest rates now).

        • Bankruptcy isn't just about "moving on" and "getting closure", though accountants do like to acknowledge such things as much as divorced New Agers do. A more significant concern is that when a person or business goes bankrupt, they've usually got some assets left, and multiple creditors that they owe money to, and bankruptcy law is fundamentally about allocating the assets fairly among the creditors. There's also some social policy (because we don't want people starving on the streets), and some incentive

  • by WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) on Monday May 14, 2012 @08:37PM (#40001207)

    In this case the company got dumped on by the Chinese.

    Investment is inherently risky. But we have to invest in our future. Some of those investments will go bust. The ones that don't , like the internet, pay for the ones that do many many many times over.

    The only people making a whipping boy of this company are people who 1) reflexively hate anything the President has done or 2) work for oil and gas companies.

    • by medcalf (68293) on Monday May 14, 2012 @08:44PM (#40001249) Homepage
      Investing is inherently risky. When you invest other people's money, you are passing the risk to them. In this case, a successful investment would have enriched the owners, while what actually happened soaked not the owners, nor the politicians, but the taxpayers. This is why it's a bad idea to have politicians "invest" public funds: there is no risk to them, and potentially the gain of having helped out their financial and political supporters. Moral hazard is vast in such situations. If you are having a problem seeing it, imagine Mitt Romney investing public funds in Koch Brothers companies, and I'm sure it will be more clear.
      • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Monday May 14, 2012 @08:54PM (#40001311)

        Ironically, this investment failed largely because China is more effective at subsidizing their industries with public funds than we are. And it looks like their strategy in this case is going to win them the lion's share of the market going forward.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 14, 2012 @09:05PM (#40001385)

          Ironically, this investment failed largely because China has only fictional environmental regulations, an endless supply of powerless disposable workers and no tariffs or duties to pay on US exports (until recently [bbc.co.uk]). And it looks like their strategy in this case is going to win them the lion's share of the market going forward.

          FTFY

          • by amiga3D (567632)

            I love it, a truly insightful post at last. People act like we can actually compete with a country that doesn't have to deal with the EPA, OSHA and Social Security or the FLRA.

            • by Pulzar (81031)

              People act like we can actually compete with a country that doesn't have to deal with the EPA, OSHA and Social Security or the FLRA.

              The whole point is that a country that doesn't have those things will have unhappier populace with a lower standard of living, and therefore less time and inclination to innovate and go the extra mile to make something of their own work.

              That's why we can't compete in mindless assembly and raw materials, but we're still doing pretty damn good in everything else.

        • And China's domestic growth is predicated on US consumption of goods and other foreign investments to provide employment. In a global economy it's a two-way street. If we fall, so will they. Their inflation due to the devaluation of the dollar is proof of that as their currency has historically been pegged to the US dollar. It's also why they've been divesting of it lately. The solution is for both the CCP and the US Feds to stay the hell away from investing or subsidizing in goods and services. This is how

          • I really fail to see how the success of one entity can rationally depend on another entity enjoying the benefits of its effort.....

      • by jo_ham (604554)

        You mean like the former administration funnelling millions to corporations like Halliburton? Very few right wing commentators harping on about "government waste" and "risky investment" back then, not that it makes it any better.

        Either way, the current administration provided a $500 million loan guarantee that was unfortunately unable to be paid back - still a drop in the bucket compared to the tax breaks given to oil companies, but still not something you really want to lose. The market, flooded with below

      • by artor3 (1344997)

        You don't think there's a gain for the average American to have wildly successful tech companies with factories on our shores?

        Solyndra was a reasonable investment. Had it succeeded, it would have been good for the country. Unfortunately, it failed, and we lost some money. As any successful businessman can tell you, the proper response to a failed investment is not "give up and never invest again".

      • We both offered reasoned arguments and examples to buttress our diametrically different POV. So far, both our arguments have gotten 5 stars. Let's see if we can pick this apart.

        You argument depends on the concept of "other people's money". One set of people pony up the cash, another set merrily invests, yet another profits - the owners- if things go well.

        This description is fallacious in this circumstance for a number of reasons, which I'll point out just below, but also, and even more interesting, is

    • by adiposity (684943) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @02:04AM (#40002587)

      As someone who works near the Solyndra plant (and at a firm that supplied Solyndra with products), and who knows a former employee of Solyndra, I can say there was more of an issue than the Chinese. Yes, the Chinese dumped on the market, and yes, this made it difficult for Solyndra to survive...but, there was a culture of incredible waste at Solyndra. Everything purchased had to be top dollar. As is often the case when a company has too much money, many things were bought that were unnecessary, and problems were usually fixed by throwing more money at it. My friend is an engineer and observed many times designs had to be reworked because of incompetence and lack of attention to detail. But this was accepted, because there was plenty of money. When the money ran out, it was too late to change.

      Solyndra probably couldn't have survived, anyway, but they did themselves no favors. And the huge investments made into Solyndra only encouraged them to be wasteful. Sometimes a budget results in a better product.

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Monday May 14, 2012 @09:05PM (#40001377) Journal

    When something like this happens, I have to wonder if it isn't a shell game, to wit:

    1) Company A builds a big expensive ultra modern plant, using investor and/or tax monies.

    2) Company A is run into the ground, files for bankrupcy

    3) Assets are sold at fire-sale prices to company B, which is ultimately, through very complicated and difficult-to-trace machinations, owned by the same people who originally owned company A.

    4) The owners essentially get to keep what they've managed to squirrel away while the company was crashing, and then buy back their facilities for a song, just coincidentally free from any loan or investor obligations.

    5) Profit!

    • by alexander_686 (957440) on Monday May 14, 2012 @10:20PM (#40001803)

      I can find a lot of real life examples of this. However, you have to find places of weak corporate governance and / or government officials you can bribe. I am thinking modem day Russia or America's Gilded Age of stock operators (1870 to 1920).

      Today, most bankruptcy sales are either public auction or a court appointed official - the official being selected by the debit holders. The only modern day case in which the politicians interfered with a bankruptcy was G.M. (The banks don't count - that was a bail out.)

    • by Seakip18 (1106315)

      6) Company B, having successfully fleeced the public initially, now set out a way to fleece the public....again/
      7) Company B, reusing same political connections under Company A, convince gov't to buy Company B's wares.
      8) Profit!
      9) Use new monies to get policy makers to write restrictions that put your product/industry in a legalized monopoly.
      10) Profit!
      11) Become overleveraged and essential that you can then afford to make bad decisions without fear of recourse.
      12) Hold industry/public hostage using "If we

    • by fermion (181285)
      In the real estate market, and the energy market, such investments are risky. It is hard to say how much value is actually going to be placed on a building. Many, who do not understand the free market, say the value is based on input costs, but of course this is a naive point fo view.

      Take the building Enron build around 2000. It costs some 200 million dollars. Some of this was likely government money direct or indirect. Enron was given a monopoly on some energy trading, and back in 2002 Fox reported

  • Tempest in a teapot (Score:5, Interesting)

    by riverat1 (1048260) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @12:13AM (#40002299)

    The whole program that Solyndra got the loan guarantee from was over $16 billion. The Solyndra default is 3.3% of that. The program had a budgeted default rate of over 12%. [bloomberg.com] So far there have been 2 defaults, Solyndra and Beacon Power that amounts to a total default rate is only 3.6%. 90% of the loan guarantees went to wind and solar projects that have contracts with utilities and are unlikely to default.

    It's just a made up controversy being used to make political hay.

  • Fremont CA is home of the failed Solyndra plant, the failed NUMMI auto plant, the failed Sun Microsystems campus, the failed Apple Macintosh factory...

    • by Rakarra (112805)

      Solyndra was a failure, no getting around that. Something will have to be done about China, but people should have recognized that and accounted for it.
      NUMMI failed? GM imploded so they pulled out. You can hardly blame NUMMI for that. The plant reopened and is making super-expensive Tesla Motors cars. Whether that will win out in the long term is up for debate.
      Sun Microsystems was a leader in the field for years for years, and they were eventually bought.
      Don't know about the Mac factory, I'll take your word

  • There is so much sun in California, there is water to clean panels, social stability to build large generators.

    This failure, it does not sound right.
  • They had some interesting technology they just made a lot of mistakes.

    They built in california... should have done it in a state that likes manufacturing. They allowed their company to get political. Never a good idea. And they didn't hedge against the price of silicon.

    Big airlines buy oil futures to hedge against rises in jet fuel prices. It's just good business. if your business model is controlled by the price of silicon, then buy some insurance against that price going down. It's very easy to do this...

  • How much of the money from this sale does the governmnet get? After all we the people funded part of this company and thus the building. I don't care if the other creditors get their money. The people demand their money back. Like that will actually happen! /sarcasm

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