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UPDATE 1-Fisker files Chapter 11, U.S. recoups $25 mln in loan sale

Deepa Seetharaman and Timothy Gardner
Friday, 22 Nov 2013 | 5:49 PM ET

DETROIT, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Fisker Automotive, the moribund maker of the Karma plug-in hybrid sports cars, agreed to sell itself to an investor group on Friday and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The investor group, Hybrid Technology LLC, took control of the car company after paying $25 million for a U.S. Department of Energy green technology loan to Fisker worth $168 million, said a spokesman for Representative Marsha Blackburn, vice chair of the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee.

In all, the DOE has recouped about $53 million on its $192 million investment in Fisker.

The bankruptcy filing caps a lengthy and tumultuous effort to restart the Anaheim, California-based company, which has not built a car in almost 18 months and fired most of its staff in April to save cash.

Its financial woes left Fisker unable to repay millions in outstanding bills to suppliers, the DOE and others. The DOE put the loan up for auction in mid-October.

A subsidiary of Hybrid Technology, Hybrid Tech Holdings LLC, is purchasing Fisker's assets and will provide $8 million in debtor-in-possession financing.

Fisker won a $529 million loan in 2009 as part of the Obama administration's effort to boost advanced vehicle development in the United States. But the DOE froze Fisker's credit line in mid-2011 after the company missed certain performance targets.