Lopez unit takes case vs Sunpower to int’l court

First Philec, FPSC, Sunpower claim breach of contract

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LOPEZ-LED First Philippine Electric Corp. (First Philec) and its subsidiary First Philec Solar Corp. (FPSC) have sought international arbitration to resolve their dispute with SunPower Philippines Manufacturing Ltd.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange on Friday, parent firm First Philippine Holdings Corp. said that the two Lopez-led firms had filed a request for arbitration with the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce.

“First Philec and FPSC have initiated arbitration in order to enforce their rights under the joint venture agreement and the wafering supply and sales agreement, respectively,” FPH reported.

First Philec is a wholly-owned subsidiary of FPH. FPSC, meanwhile, which is engaged in slicing silicon wafers for use in solar panels, is the joint venture company formed between First Philec (which holds an 80 percent stake) and SunPower Philippines (which owns 20 percent).

Both First Philec Solar and SunPower have alleged breaches by the other party of their wafering supply and sales agreement, which the latter had sought to terminate.

The agreement was signed in November 2007 and was supposed to expire next year.

SunPower also seeks $8.8 million (roughly P370 million) in claims from First Philec Solar for the contract breach.

This was refuted by the Lopez group, which claimed that it was actually SunPower that had breached the supply agreement and owed First Philec Solar at least $27 million.

“For these reasons, First Philec Solar has contested the termination and demanded discussions with  SunPower Philippines pursuant to the dispute resolution mechanism of the supply agreement while  reserving all its rights under this agreement and the law,” FPH earlier said.

It was not made clear what was the root of the disagreement between the Lopezes and SunPower Philippines, but this development came on the heels of another dispute between the Lopez Group and Korean solar wafer giant Nexolon Co. Ltd.

In May this year, Nexolon asked the Lopez group to buy its 30 percent stake in their water slicing joint venture First Philec Nexolon Corp. (FPNC) amid a partnership dispute that was similarly brought to international arbitration.

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