Wanxiang, China’s largest auto parts company, made a last-minute bid for Fisker Automotive just days before the bankrupt company was to be sold to a Hong Kong tycoon.
According to court documents seen by Reuters, Fisker creditors asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware, to scrap the agreed sale to a company affiliated with Richard Li and instead hold an open auction at which Wanxiang America Corp plans to bid.
The auto parts supplier has agreed to make an initial bid of $24.725 million (€18.1 million) and to assume some liabilities of Fisker. A hearing has been scheduled for Friday in Wilmington to see whether Fisker should proceed with the sale to the Li affiliate or go with the creditors’ proposal.
Wanxiang outbid Johnson Controls last year in a bankruptcy auction for most of the assets of A123 Systems Inc, the maker of batteries for Fisker’s cars. Both Fisker and A123 obtained green technology loans from the U.S. Department of Energy. Some critics of the government’s loan program tried to block the sale of A123 to Wanxiang on the basis that sensitive technology was being transferred to an economic rival.
However, regarding the sale of Fisker’s assets to Wanxiang, analyst don’t expect similar problems since the assets are mainly related to automotive design. If it buys Fisker, Wanxiang plans to restart production as soon as April and eventually transfer manufacturing from Finland to Michigan, according to the company’s presentation to creditors.
The auto parts supplier estimates sales of more than 1,000 Karma hybrids in the first 18 months in the United States and 500 in Europe. Wanxiang says it could lower production costs, but did not reveal a price tag. Fisker sold the Karma plug-in hybrid for more than $100,000.
By Dan Mihalascu