ATS Selects Financial Advisor for Solar Group and Adds Solar CFO

  • January 04, 2006
  • ATS Automation Tooling Systems
  • News
CAMBRIDGE, ON - ATS Automation Tooling Systems Inc. today announced it has selected BMO Nesbitt Burns as financial adviser to assist in assessing and pursuing financing opportunities and strategic alternatives for its growing Solar Group. "I believe there is tremendous value in our Solar assets, and the appointment of a financial adviser represents an important next step in our plans to unlock the value of this investment for our shareholders," said Ron Jutras, ATS President and CEO. "Together with the Solar Committee of our Board of Directors, the Solar Group management team will work with BMO Nesbitt Burns to help us assess the funding strategies for our Solar Group. In addition to considering other alternatives, this will include an assessment of the merits of a possible public offering of securities of our Solar Group. We're continuing to execute a deliberate, focused approach to enable us to fund and rapidly grow our Solar business for the benefit of ATS shareholders." Consistent with its future plans for the Solar Group and to further strengthen Solar Group's management, the Company also announced the appointment of James E. Kopperson, CA, CPA, as Solar Group's first Chief Financial Officer. Mr. Kopperson was most recently Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Corporate Development of RDM Corporation, a publicly traded Canadian manufacturing company. Earlier in his 14 year career, Mr. Kopperson was a partner with KPMG and served in the Office of the Chief Accountant, the Ontario Securities Commission. He will report to Syl Ghirardi, Solar Group's President and CEO. "In James, we have found an outstanding professional with qualifications earned in both public accounting and in the corporate world," said Mr. Ghirardi. "At this stage in our development, James will fill a very important and necessary role in Solar Group's executive management team. On behalf of our management team, I look forward to working with James and BMO Nesbitt Burns as well as the special Solar Committee of our Board of Directors, as wecontinue to execute our strategic plan for Solar." ATS in Solar Demand for solar power is growing rapidly around the world due to a number of long-term drivers, including growing energy usage, the demand for clean, renewable energy sources, the escalating price and scarcity of fossil fuels and government incentives. ATS's Solar Group began in 1997 and today consists of Photowatt International, a leading, vertically integrated, manufacturer of conventional solar cells and modules, and ATS's Spheral Solar Power division (SSP), a developer and now emerging manufacturer of innovative next-generation solar technology products. To date, all reported revenue and earnings of the ATS Solar Group have been generated from Photowatt. For the first six months of the ATS current fiscal year, ATS Solar segment revenues were $70.1 million and earnings from operations (EBIT) were $9.7 million, representing an operating margin of 13.8%. Solar is now ATS's second largest operating segment and in fiscal 2005, represented approximately 19% of consolidated revenue. Photowatt ATS acquired Photowatt of Bourgoin-Jallieu, France in 1997. Since that time, ATS has applied its automation technology to expand Photowatt and make it a profitable international solar energy company. The increasingly strong financial performance of Photowatt reflects growing market demand, ongoing capacity expansion and significant improvements in production yields, throughput gains, cost reduction initiatives and optimization of significantcapital investments made by ATS since acquisition. Spheral Solar Power (SSP)SSP is a next generation proprietary solar technology that Solar Group is currently developing for commercial manufacture and introduction. Management believes that the lightweight, pliable and durable characteristics of SSP-based solar products address multiple application opportunities and attractive markets not well served by conventional solar products. Some of these applications include portable power as well as solar-embedded residential roofing tiles and commercial roofing membranes. SSP technology is expected to be able to deliver these products with an attractive manufacturing cost and lower silicon usage relative to products manufactured using conventional solar technology. Since embarking on the start up and commercialization of the technology in July 2002, ATS has made considerable progress with SSP. In addition to developing the innovative processes and first high volume production equipment required to enable production of the technology, ATS has constructed and opened the first automated, fully integrated SSP solar cell factory in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada. Initial manufacturing of SSP solar cells recently began in this 193,000 sq ft facility and work required to optimize production throughput, yields and cell efficiency is now underway. The SSP initiative has been partially funded by Technology Partnerships Canada. About BMO Nesbitt BurnsBMO Nesbitt Burns (, the investment and corporate banking practice of BMO Financial Group, offers corporate, institutional and government clients a complete range of financial services, including capital raising, structured finance, M&A, treasury and market risk management services, research and institutional investing. In the U.S., under the Harris Nesbitt name, it offers these services to institutional and corporate clients, focusing on selected sectors in the middle market. About ATSATS Automation Tooling Systems Inc. is the industry's leading designer and producer of turn-key automated manufacturing and test systems, which are used primarily by multinational corporations operating in a variety of industries including: healthcare, automotive, computer/electronics and consumer products. Through its Solar Group, ATS is also an emerging leader in the rapidly growing market for solar energy cells and modules. The Company also makes precision components and subassemblies using its process knowledge and automation technology. ATS employs approximately 3,900 people at 25 manufacturing facilities in Canada, the United States, Europe and Asia-Pacific. The Company's shares are traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol ATA. Learn More

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