Silicon Valley solar cell and panel maker SunPower (SPWR) has agreed to buy Tenesol SA, a global solar provider headquartered in France, for $165.4 million in cash, the company said on Friday.

Tenesol, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Total SA, has operations in 18 countries and solar panel manufacturing facilities in France and South Africa. It has installed more than 15,000 solar systems worldwide totaling 500 megawatts in 1983.

"Our acquisition of Tenesol is another step toward differentiating ourselves in the competitive solar market, further expanding our downstream presence and benefiting from the strong backing of Total," said SunPower CEO Tom Werner said.

At the close of the acquisition, Total has agreed to buy 18.6 million shares on SunPower common stock in a private placement at $8.80 a share, a 50% premium to its Dec. 22 closing price. That will bring Total’s ownership of SunPower shares to 66%.

The transaction has been approved by an incident committee of SunPower’s board and is expected to close early in 2012 pending customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals.

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