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Judge approves billion-dollar loan for bankrupt SunEdison

SunEdison Solar Energy farm
SunEdison Solar Energy Farm

Updated 12:12 p.m., June. 9 with operational loan approval - A St. Louis-based renewable-energy company has been approved for a loan that will help it operate through the bankruptcy process. A judge has cleared the way for SunEdison to access $1.3 billion. Bloomberg reports some of the money will fund a probe by creditors into the company's financial activities.

SunEdison filed for bankruptcy protection in April as it dealt with potential federal investigations into accounting methods and a heavy debt load. The company had 1,000 operations worldwide and more than 3,000 workers at the time of the filing.

SunEdison was founded in St. Peters in 1959. Its corporate offices are in Maryland Heights and it has an operational headquarters in California.

Original Post From April 21, 2016 - Facing  challenges including a heavy debt load and possible federal investigations into accounting practices, a St. Louis-based renewable energy company is seeking bankruptcy protection.

SunEdison has filed in Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York but is expecting to continue operations without disruption. Its publicly-traded units, TerraForm Power and TerraForm Global, are not part of the filing.

“Our decision to initiate a court-supervised restructuring was a difficult but important step to address our immediate liquidity issues," Ahmad Chatila, SunEdison chief executive officer, said in a release announcing the bankruptcy.

“As a result of this process, we expect that SunEdison will be in an even better position over the long term to utilize our capabilities in the renewable energy sector.”

The move was expected after TerraForm Global warned last month in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commissionthat there was “a substantial risk that SunEdison will soon seek bankruptcy protection.”

The company is also believed to be under investigation by the SEC and the U.S. Department of Justice. Also, TerraForm Global is suing for breach of contract. It claims SunEdison misappropriated more than $230 million.

SunEdison announced last week that a review by independent accounting and financial advisors showed no evidence to support allegations of fraud or “willful misconduct of management,” other than the actions of one employee who was fired. That was related to the failed acquisition of Utah-based Vivint Solar.

The decision to file for bankruptcy comes after the company accumulated significant debt as part of ambitious expansion and acquisition plans.

“They were really reaching all over the world trying to establish themselves as the global renewable energy leader,” said Tyler Ogden, a solar analyst at Boston-based emerging technology advisory firm Lux Research.

He says he doesn’t believe the downfall of SunEdison is a sign of an overall decline in the solar energy sector.

“It's more a signal of a company that tried to grow too fast, in too many directions, both geographically and application wise. So, it's really SunEdison specific, not a premonition of the entire solar market."

Although SunEdison’s corporate offices are in Maryland Heights, it lists an operational headquarters in California.

The company was founded in St. Peters in 1959. It has grown to include more than 3,000 workers and 1,000 operations worldwide.

SunEdison lists nearly $21 billion in assets and liabilities of $16 billion. The company’s market value was nearly $10 billion just last summer, but its stock has been in freefall, losing 99 percent of its value in the past 12 months.

Ogden says when you put it all together the bankruptcy filing is not a surprise.

“The stress was going to build up to a point where SunEdison was just going to implode.”

Wayne is the morning newscaster at St. Louis Public Radio.