Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd. has named a new CEO amid financial struggles, accusations of unfair trade practices, and concerns that the company was the victim of fraud.
Suntech says David King is replacing Dr. Zhengrong Shi as CEO. King previously served as Suntech's CFO.
Shi will remain as executive chairman and chief strategy officer of the company, which is among the largest solar panel makers in the world.
Suntech, like most of the world's solar panel makers, has seen profits plummet because a glut in solar panels has sent prices tumbling. A large increase in global solar manufacturing capacity coincided with a slowdown in Europe, by far the world's biggest solar market.
For solar installers and customers, falling prices have made solar more attractive and increased demand, especially in the U.S.
But several emerging solar panel makers have failed, and established ones are struggling to stay afloat. Suntech's shares fell 4.4 percent Wednesday to $1.01. A year ago they traded at $6.70.
Last month, Suntech said a business partner faked $680 million in collateral for a loan Suntech had guaranteed. Suntech's banks could force the company to come up with new collateral, which in turn could squeeze the company's cash. The loans were used to finance solar systems in Italy. If the solar systems fail to generate enough cash to service the debt, Suntech could be held responsible.
Suntech and other Chinese panel makers are also facing accusations that they are engaged in predatory pricing in the U.S. and Europe and that they have received unfair help from the Chinese government.
The U.S. imposes both anti-dumping tariffs on Chinese-made panels and other tariffs meant to counteract what the U.S. says are unfair government subsidies. Last month German solar companies filed a petition with the World Trade Organization and the European Commission complaining that the Chinese were dumping solar modules in the European market.