Ayala buys Silicon Valley-based solar tech firm
Conglomerate Ayala Corp. has expanded its footprint in solar energy with the acquisition of a controlling stake in Merlin Solar Technologies Inc., a Silicon Valley-based firm that has developed “disruptive” solar farming technology whose operations can be scaled up by a manufacturing hub in the Philippines.
The transaction was done through AC Industrials’ subsidiary, ACI Solar Holdings NA, which had previously made a minority investment in Merlin in 2016. AC Industrials will have an ownership interest of 78.2 percent in Merlin after the transaction and completion of other related activities, Ayala said in a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange on Monday.
Merlin is a start-up firm headquartered in San Jose, California that has developed proven technology to enhance the efficiency of solar panels. At the core of its patented technology are innovative metal grids that extract more solar power compared to standard panels, dramatically improving the reliability performance and ruggedness of the solar panels. This technology is deemed suitable for demanding applications, such as transportation and infrastructure.
This American solar solutions firm currently has additional manufacturing facilities in Thailand. Moving forward, the disclosure said Merlin would also establish a manufacturing presence in the Philippines through Integrated Microelectronics Inc. (IMI), a subsidiary of AC Industrials.
“At Ayala, we believe that the future will be shaped by the innovation we are seeing today. We are excited to have the opportunity to add Merlin’s solar technology to our portfolio. The proprietary solar solutions that Merlin brings to the table are key to AC Industrials’ strategy of working on disruptive technologies, and aligns with the Ayala group’s drive to invest in emerging, innovative spaces, such as in e-commerce and fintech. In addition, Merlin is highly complementary to various Ayala businesses, such as the renewable energy generation under AC Energy. We strongly believe that Merlin’s solar technology has the potential to profoundly impact people’s lives in the coming years,” Ayala Corp. and AC Industrials chair Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala said.
AC Industrials CEO Arthur Tan added: “The acquisition of Merlin forms part of AC Industrials’ strategy to own, develop, and commercialize disruptive technologies in rapidly-transforming industries. Merlin’s patent and IP (intellectual property) portfolio allows a differentiated value proposition in solar which, when combined with AC Industrials’ core strength of providing manufacturing scale through IMI’s global platform, will provide AC Industrials with the opportunity to disrupt the solar energy industry.”
While conventional forms of solar deployment rely on aluminum-framed-tempered-glass constructs, the weight and rigidity of such installations prevent their use in applications that demand rugged, lightweight, flex tolerant, and aesthetic appeal. This has limited their use primarily to large grid-connected solar farm applications. As such, Merlin developed innovative crystalline silicon-based solar solutions which address demanding deployments such as on metal roofs, auxiliary power for transportation, flush mounted residential solar, and military applications.
This investment forms part of Ayala’s strategy, through AC Industrials, to boost its presence in the global and domestic industrial technologies spaces by capitalizing on opportunities arising from disruptive technological shifts, changing industry landscapes, and increasing demand from end-users.
Since its formation in 2016, AC Industrials has built a portfolio of businesses in industrial technologies including various platforms in electronics manufacturing, vehicle assembly, vehicle retail and distribution, and emerging technologies.
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