First Solar CEO departs; latest blow to cleantech company

Summary:First Solar chief executive Rob Gillette will leave the company, putting the cleantech firm in a tailspin.

In the latest blow to the beleaguered cleantech company, First Solar announced on Tuesday that chief executive Rob Gillette will leave the company effective immediately.

He will be replaced by company founder Mike Ahearn on an interim basis until the company's board of directors can find a suitable replacement. And suitable he or she must be: the penalty for terminating Gillette without cause is a severance payment equal to to two years of his annual base salary.

Gillette came from Honeywell, where he led its aerospace division. He was hired in Oct. 2009 to manage the company's growth.

The Tempe, Ariz.-based company manufactures solar modules for photovoltaic systems.

The company has been under fire after several of its top executives departed in recent months, including president Bruce Sohn and CFO Jens Meyerhoff, and its stock has been tanking in the market. It certainly doesn't help that Gillette's departure was without reason or notice.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

Topics: Innovation

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Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. He is also the former editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation. He writes about business, technology and design now but used to cover finance, fashion and culture. He was an intern at Money, Men's Vogue, Popular Mechanics and the New York Daily Ne... Full Bio

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