By Tom Hals and Garima Goel
Oct 26 Bankrupt battery maker A123 Systems Inc
plans to ask for court approval for a loan from auto
parts maker Wanxiang Group Corp, while Johnson Controls Inc
said it would withdraw its prior loan commitment to
A123, which filed for bankruptcy earlier this month, had an
interim bankruptcy loan with auto parts supplier Johnson
Controls. But the company revealed in a court filing on Friday
that it reached agreement for a replacement loan from Wanxiang.
In a statement released late on Friday, Johnson Controls
said it is withdrawing the debtor-in-possession (DIP) loan to
avoid delays to the bankruptcy process.
Wanxiang's attorney had said last week that the Chinese
company plans to fight Johnson Controls for the role of initial
"Johnson Controls has chosen not to be the
debtor-in-possession lender during A123's bankruptcy process to
avoid potential delays," Johnson Controls said in a statement.
However, Johnson Controls said that it will maintain its
$125 million bid for A123's automotive assets as well as the
stalking horse position.
Johnson Controls also said it plans to include A123's
government business, including military contracts, to its bid.
A debtor-in-possession or DIP loan often gives the lender
significant leverage over the bankrupt company, allowing the
lender to demand asset sales and set timelines for conducting
In a separate disclosure earlier in the day, A123 had sought
court approval for a loan from Wanxiang. The disclosure was part
of an agenda for a hearing scheduled for Tuesday in the Delaware
Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington.
"The debtors intend to file an emergency motion in advance
of the hearing seeking approval of a replacement DIP facility
with Wanxiang America Corp," A123 said in a court filing on
This could give the Chinese company an advantage over U.S.
rival Johnson Controls in a takeover battle for A123.
Wanxiang has been pursuing A123 for months. The bankruptcy
came after a $465 million rescue deal by the Chinese company
unraveled after the U.S. battery maker was unable to meet some
conditions of the agreement.
Michael Freitag, a spokesman for A123, and Bojan Guzina, a
lawyer for Wanxiang, declined to comment on the disclosure.
A123, a maker of lithium-ion batteries used in hybrid and
electric vehicles, had received a $249 million U.S. government
grant in 2009 designed to boost the renewable energy industry.
However, the company declared bankruptcy amid a
disappointing market for electric vehicles and after it had to
recall battery packs made for Fisker Automotive, which made up
26 percent of A123's revenue in 2011.
Fisker on Friday objected to A123's plans to selling the
company at an auction with an initial "stalking horse" bid from
Johnson Controls, or JCI, for $125 million.
"The best interests of the estates, however, are not well
served through a hasty and unfair sale process designed to
ensure that JCI is the ultimate purchaser," Fisker said in its
It asked the court to extend bidding deadlines for 30 days.
Wanxiang would need approval from the Committee on Foreign
Investment in the United States and the government of China to
Wanxiang's lawyer told the court earlier this month the
Chinese company intended to present its own stalking horse
proposal to the court next Tuesday, but that matter was
postponed to Nov. 5, according to the agenda.
The case is A123 Systems Inc, Delaware Bankruptcy Court, No.