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News Summary: Suntech announces default

The Associated Press

SUNSET: Suntech, one of the world's biggest solar panel manufacturers, has defaulted on a $541 million bond payment in the latest sign of the financial squeeze on the struggling global solar industry.

DARK TIMES: The decline at Suntech is a severe setback for a company lauded by China's Communist government as a leader of efforts to make the country a center of the renewable energy industry. Its founder, Shi Zhengrong, became one of the industry's most prominent entrepreneurs and a billionaire, only to see most of his fortune evaporate as the company's share price plummeted.

SHINE IS OFF: A sharp drop in solar panel prices over the last several years has erased the profits of solar panel makers around the world. Suntech's U.S. shares tumbled in the days leading up to the debt deadline as fears rose that the company could be forced into bankruptcy. The stock, down nearly 80 percent in the past 12 months, dipped another 2 cents to 68 cents Monday.