Interview: What Fimer’s acquisition of ABB Solar means for Australian customers

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From Solar Cutters

Solar Cutters: When will ABB Solar business transition to Fimer?

The completion of the acquisition is expected in Q1. We are working to try to anticipate around end of February in order to start running the business, as FIMER, in the shortest time possible.
Why did Fimer purchase ABB? 
There are many macro trends that are pushing the Energy generation to distributed installations and not only big utility ones. The markets require to the Inverter manufactured to have a full global presence and complete product portfolio.
Thanks to the acquisition we will have the most complete portfolio available on the market. We will increase our yearly installed base up to 7GW/year focusing our Company also into the segment of string inverter at global level. We deeply think also that being very focalized in solar and flexible in running the business we can add the characteristics typical of the solar business: speed, flexibility and focalization in addition to complete portfolio and strong global presence
What was Fimer’s relationship with ABB prior to the acquisition?
We were, we are and we will be also customer of ABB for the LV and MV solutions.
What is the current product range Fimer offers?
We are focused only on the utility segment of the solar market with [a] fully modular central inverter, complete conversion units solution, one model of string inverters but always for utility installations, and storage solution for big storage systems.
What’s happening to the existing ABB Solar inverter range?
It will be fully maintained and we will increase even more our investments in R&D to further develop their actual product portfolio. We are in the condition to have full complementary products ranges.
What will happen to the current ABB Solar business in Australia?
Australia is one of the biggest and fast growing markets in the region. We are well positioned in the distribution market. We need to work and increase our market share in the utility segment that, in Australia, is still strong. We will have also a point of attention to the storage solutions where Fimer, as PCS manufacturer and system integrator, is world widely very strong.

What will happen to the ABB Solar service team, service stock and the Service Partner Program?

Service and O&M will be the first point of attention. Customer acquisition and market share growth is possible only if the service after sales is at the highest level. We want to reduce the intervention time [by] increasing our portfolio of service partner and local stock.
What happens to the warranty of existing ABB inverters?
All the warranties and liabilities will be honoured by Fimer. For the customer nothing will change and we will take care of all the installed base.
Will the warranty process stay the same?
We want to improve strongly this area of the business. Being competitor and having to respect the anti-trust rules, we don’t have deep knowledge about how this is, today, organised.
What is the state of the 10-year promotion with ABB within Australia and New Zealand? 

Our intention, being focused on solar, is to follow what the market is requiring.

How long will the ABB branding stay? 

With the acquisition we will have the possibility to use, in combination with Fimer, the ABB brand for the next three years. We are working in these weeks to define the modalities.

Has ABB’s solar business been profitable?

It will be for sure. Representing the solar business, after the acquisition, more than 90% of our business, it must be.
Will manufacturing remain in Italy?

We will have three manufacturing hub starting from day one after closing the acquisition: two in Italy (actual Fimer and actual ABB respectively for central solutions/system integration and string solutions) and one in India for central solutions.

What will happen to ABB Solar’s R&D?

Our Strategy, already expected in our business plan, is to increase our investments in R&D to about 4% on the revenues. It is a big step but it is fundamental to follow all the new digital technologies. We will maintain three R&D centres, two in Italy and one in Finland and we are studying to open an additional hub in India.

What’s coming up?

We have to work strongly in the next three-to-four months to arrive at the completion of the acquisition in the best way possible. Then we will start applying oursStrategies, market by market, segment by segment. They are very clear and, I think, profitable for the customer base.
This interview was conducted and originally published by the Solar Cutters