U.S. solar firm Solyndra files for bankruptcy protection

(Reuters) - Solyndra LLC, a solar panel maker which had earlier received $535 million in federal loan guarantees, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection early on Tuesday, making it the third U.S. solar firm to succumb to pressure from lower-cost Chinese rivals.

In a filing with the Delaware bankruptcy court, the company listed assets and liabilities in the range of $500 million to $1 billion. Companies usually try to reduce the debt level and reorganize business operations through the Chapter 11 bankruptcy route.

Solyndra is the third U.S. solar company to seek bankruptcy protection in the recent past. Former Wall Street high flyer Evergreen Solar Inc filed for Chapter 11 two weeks ago, followed four days later by SpectraWatt Inc, a private company that was backed by Intel Corp.

In a statement last week, Solyndra said it could not compete with bigger overseas rivals. Earlier this year, cuts to generous solar subsidies in No. 2 market Italy stalled development of solar projects and led to a global glut of solar panels that sparked a 25 percent drop in prices.

Even industry heavyweights such as China's Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd and U.S.-based First Solar Inc are struggling with dwindling profits, while small, up-and-coming solar companies are finding it increasingly difficult to stay afloat.

The case is Solyndra LLC, Case No. 11-12799, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware.

(Reporting by Sakthi Prasad in Bangalore; Editing by David Holmes)