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China's largest auto parts company makes last-minute Fisker bid

Tom Hals
Tuesday, 31 Dec 2013 | 9:55 AM ET

Dec 31 (Reuters) - China's largest auto parts company made a surprise bid for Fisker Automotive just days before the bankrupt maker of the Karma plug-in hybrid sports car was to be sold to a Hong Kong tycoon, according to court documents.

Fisker creditors asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware to scrap Fisker's agreed sale to a company affiliated with Richard Li and instead hold an open auction at which Wanxiang America Corp plans to bid.

Wanxiang outbid Johnson Controls last year in a bankruptcy auction for most of the assets of A123 Systems Inc, which made batteries for Fisker's cars.

"They are extremely capable and knowledgeable of the industry and know how to get things done," said William Baldiga, a Brown Rudnick attorney who represents Fisker's official creditors committee.

Both Fisker and A123 obtained green technology loans from the Department of Energy. Critics of the government's loan program tried to get regulators to block the sale of A123 to Wanxiang, arguing that sensitive technology was being transferred to an economic rival.

Baldiga said he does not anticipate similar problems with the sale of Fisker's assets, which he said are primarily related to automotive design.

Wanxiang plans to restart Fisker production and eventually move the manufacturing from Finland to Michigan, according to Wanxiang's presentation to creditors that was filed with the court.

Fisker filed for bankruptcy in November, after being hobbled by production glitches and recalls.

Li planned to buy the company after he paid around $30 million for Fisker's loan from the U.S. government. Li planned to bid the $168 million owed on that loan to acquire Fisker's assets, leaving other creditors such as suppliers with next to nothing.