Monday, February 17, 2014

Sale of Fisker to Wanxiang Heralds a New Beginning

After some last minute intrigue it appears the fate of Fisker Automotive has finally been decided. Initially it appeared that the company's assets would be sold to Hybrid Tech Holdings llc, a Hong Kong-based company controlled by businessman Richard Li. However, a Delaware Bankruptcy Court put the company's holdings up for an open public auction allowing a winning bid from China's Wanxiang America.

The bottom line was price with Wanxiang outbidding the competition. Fisker filed for bankruptcy in November of last year and Hybrid offered $25 million in a private bid that would have given little or nothing to Fisker's unsecured creditors. At auction Hybrid raised their bid to $55 million only to lose out to Wanxiang's bid of $149.2 million. Wanxiang is China's largest auto-parts group and the owner of A123 Systems, they make a lithium-ion battery that was used by Fisker.

The Fisker saga is quite a convoluted tale. The company began to unravel after a recall of defective A123 batteries early in 2012. A123 itself declared bankruptcy in October 2012; Wanxiang purchased A123's assets in January 2013. Now Wanxiang is set to take control of Fisker although the sale  must still gain the final approval of the Bankruptcy Court Judge.

In a statement following the auction Hybrid Tech said, "After actively bidding in the auction, Hybrid has elected to retain its rights as a lender rather than continue to bid for ownership of Fisker."

Hybrid acquired the Department of Energy’s secured loan of US$168 million in November 2013 for 25 million, and is the senior secured creditor of Fisker, as such the company will be repaid ahead of the unsecured creditors. The DoE does not expect to be repaid.

Both Wanxiang and Hybrid Tech have indicated that they plan to use Fisker's assembly plant near Wilmington, Delaware. Fisker bought the Delaware plant in 2010, but it has yet to be made operational. Up until its bankruptcy, the Karma was being assembled by subcontractor Valmet in Finland.

© 2014, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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