Johnson Controls files appeal against A123 sale to Chinese rival

Mon Dec 17, 2012 12:00pm EST

Dec 17 (Reuters) - Johnson Controls Inc filed an appeal against the sale order of bankrupt battery maker A123 Systems Inc to Chinese rival Wanxiang Group, objecting to a delay in payment of fees owed to it.

Johnson Controls, an auto-parts maker, was the lead bidder for the bankruptcy auction of A123 this month and had been due a $5.5 million fee in return for supporting the sale.

Johnson said it was objecting to a delay in the payment of the fee, which the bankruptcy court has ruled will only be released when the sale closes or after an investigation by A123 creditors.

Johnson Controls has said it remains interested in A123 if auction winner Wanxiang, China's largst auto parts maker, fails to get approval to buy A123.

The U.S. government is under pressure from some politicians to block the deal of the formerly subsidised firm to China.

"Should the sale of A123 Systems to Wanxiang not be completed for any reason, Johnson Controls remains open to considering future opportunities to acquire relevant portions of A123's assets," said Alex Molinaroli, President of Johnson Controls Power Solutions.

A123 filed for bankruptcy in October as demand for electric vehicles did not live up to expectations and it was forced to recall defective car batteries. Its customers include Fisker Automotive, General Motors Co and BMW.

The case is A123 Systems Inc, Delaware Bankruptcy Court, No. 12-12859.

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