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First Solar swings to loss on restructuring, impairment charges

Feb 21 (Reuters) - First Solar Inc, the largest U.S. solar equipment manufacturer, swung to a quarterly loss, as the company recorded charges related to a transition to a new module.

The company reported a net loss of $719.9 million, or $6.92 per share, in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with a profit of $164.1 million, or $1.60 per share, a year earlier.

First Solar said on Tuesday it recorded $728.9 million in charges in the latest quarter related to plans to abandon the Series 5 modules and other restructuring.

The company said net sales fell 49 percent to $480.4 million due to rising competition and a stubborn decline in solar panel prices.

First Solar is bringing forward production of its Series 6 modules by a year to 2018 and abandoning plans for the Series 5 product. The company had initially expected the Series 5 and 6 products to be on the market at the same time.

The company said it secured debt financing of about 27 billion yen ($237.63 million) from Mizuho Bank Ltd for a utility-scale solar project in Japan.

(Reporting by Arathy S Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)