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Total closer to SunPower stake

Oil and gas giant Total is set to buy 60 percent of solar panel maker SunPower next week now that the companies received EU approval. Is this a watershed event for the energy industry?

Oil and gas giant Total is set to buy 60 percent of solar panel maker SunPower on June 14 after the companies received approval from the European Union. The great unknown is whether this combination changes the energy industry or merely gives SunPower some cover as the solar industry enters a rocky period.

The EU approval, announced yesterday, clears the way for Total to close its all-cash offer for 60 percent of SunPower's outstanding shares in a deal valued at $1.4 billion. Given that the two companies received U.S. regulatory clearance already, the deal is set to close. Total will pay $23.25 a share for SunPower, a 45 percent premium from the April 28 closing price, for its stake.

Analysts said that Total's acquisition is a watershed event that validates the solar panel industry. For Total, SunPower is all about diversification of energy sources. Total will be able to leverage its government relationships around the world to get SunPower sweet deals. For SunPower, Total's balance sheet means it has lower cost of capital for big projects just as pricing pressure increases. Bottom line: oil money will be financing solar installations.

Read more of Total closer to SunPower stake: Oil money flows to solar as clouds loom at ZDNet's Between the Lines.