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  • Mon June 18 2007
  • Posted Jun 18, 2007
[Powerfilm makes the solar panels that BIKEIOWA sells. This is a very cool innovative Iowa company!] PowerFilm of Ames holds a secondary stock offering, bringing in $15.6 million for the expansion project. By DAVID ELBERT REGISTER BUSINESS EDITOR Ames-based PowerFilm Inc. is planning to expand after raising $15.6 million this week through a London stock exchange. The money will be used to more than double the size of operations for the maker of flexible solar panels, ahead of a previously announced schedule, Chief Financial Officer Mike Coon said Friday. The expansion is driven by growing demand for portable power supplies for commercial and industrial use in oil and gas exploration, Global Positioning Systems and other operations, Coon said. PowerFilm is also working with the U.S. Department of Defense to develop a line of solar panels to produce electricity for use by the military in remote locations. The company employs 58 people and expects employment to double once the expansion is complete, Coon said. The company is talking with state and local officials in Iowa and other states about where to locate a new building that would have at least 50,000 square feet of space, he said. A decision on the location "is expected in the next month or two," Coon said. The site selection could depend in part on government incentives, he said. Coon declined to say what types of incentives the company is seeking. PowerFilm's headquarters and manufacturing operations are now located in a 30,000-square-foot building on the west edge of Ames. The company expects to keep that facility in addition to a new, larger building, Coon said. He said PowerFilm would like to locate the new plant nearby - in the Ames or Boone areas, if possible. The company raised the money this week from a secondary stock offering on London's Alternative Investment Market, where the company's stock has been trading since last summer. PowerFilm is in the process of completing the first phase of an expansion that was financed in part with an initial stock offering on the AIM last summer, which raised $18 million. That expansion is taking place at the west Ames location and will increase solar cells' production capability from 1 megawatt of power a year to 10 megawatts. The second phase of expansion, which is tied to the new building, is expected to boost production to 24 megawatts a year. To meet that goal, Coon said, PowerFilm will add nine production lines capable of manufacturing flexible solar panels that are 1 meter wide, Coon said. The Ames company made its initial stock offering in England, rather than in the United States, because the London market is less expensive for member companies and because it has more familiarity with alternative energy companies, Coon said last year. The secondary offering completed on Tuesday was for 2.6 million shares of stock at three pounds, or about $5.90, a share. Trading closed Friday at 3.54 pounds a share, or about $6.97. The initial public offering last year was for 8 million shares at 1.20 pounds apiece. Business Editor David Elbert can be reached at (515) 284-8533 or delbert@dmreg.com

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