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UPDATE 1-Fisker eyes strategic partners, IPO to fund expansion

Monday, 1 Oct 2012 | 5:29 PM ET

By Deepa Seetharaman

DETROIT, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Fisker Automotive, maker of the Karma plug-in hybrid, has held discussions with potential strategic partners as the automaker looks to cut costs and raise money to build its second hybrid model, the Atlantic.

The automaker, which has raised $1.2 billion since it was founded in 2007, is also laying the groundwork to go public, Chief Executive Tony Posawatz said on Monday.

"Fisker is generally viewed as an interesting company with some very, very attractive positives and technologies that I think would be of value to many partners in the future," he told reporters at an event held by the Automotive Press Association.

Posawatz, Fisker's third CEO this year, is tasked with bringing the Atlantic to market and reviving Fisker's image after setbacks with the $100,000-plus Karma's launch.

Analysts and consumers have lauded the Karma for its style and handling. But the car has also faced a number of quality issues, including a recall of batteries made by A123 Systems Inc , and a scathing review by Consumer Reports.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Energy froze the unused portion of its $529 million loan to Fisker due in part to a delay in bringing the Karma to showrooms.

The Atlantic, which will start at around $55,0000, is a key step toward restoring Fisker's image. The car will be built on a new platform that could be used to build several global models.

Fisker had planned to use the rest of the DOE money to build the Atlantic at a former General Motors Co factory in Delaware.

Fisker still "intends" to build the Atlantic in Delaware, Posawatz said, adding that talks with the DOE to release those funds would likely begin after the U.S. presidential election in early November.

The automaker has suffered from what Posawatz described as an "overly ambitious and aggressive" business plan. But the automaker's new management team, including a new chief financial officer, can steer the company on the right path, he said.

He declined to provide details of Fisker's discussions with strategic partners, but said Fisker would be interested in deals similar to its partnership with GM, which provides the engine and other components for the Karma.

Last week, Fisker said it raised $100 million from private investors and said it would outline production plans for the Atlantic by the end of the year.

The company is also preparing to go public, Posawatz said.

"We're beginning the preparations as we speak," he said. "We'll see how the markets fare. Certainly, without a doubt, it is out desire to prepare the company to be a public company."

(Reporting By Deepa Seetharaman; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

((deepa.seetharaman@thomsonreuters.com)(313-416-4074))

Keywords: FISKER PUBLIC/