Feb 10 A Hong Kong bidder for Fisker Automotive
has hired former Ford Motor Co executive Martin Leach in
anticipation of possibly winning Wednesday's bankruptcy auction
for the assets of the defunct maker of a plug-in hybrid sports
Leach, the former president of Ford's European business,
will give added heft to the management of Hybrid Tech Holding
LLC, which will square off against a Chinese auto parts company
in this week's auction.
"I've been working with them for months on a business plan
and they have very clear intentions," Leach told Reuters.
California-based Fisker filed for bankruptcy protection in
November. It has not produced its signature
Karma sports car since 2012 due to a series of technical
glitches and a cash shortage.
Hybrid, an affiliate of Hong Kong businessman Richard Li,
has offered $55 million for Fisker, while a unit of Wanxiang
Group has made an initial bid worth around $35 million.
However, Wanxiang has proposed under its bid that Fisker
creditors will receive a 20 percent stake in the new Fisker
operations, and has argued it will be a better manager of the
Creditors have sought to sue Li, a former Fisker board
member and investor, and other directors and insiders for
allegedly causing the company's financial distress.
Leach's retention was first reported in the Wall Street
Journal, and making it public ahead of the auction could help
counter arguments that Wanxiang has the operational edge.
In addition to Ford, Leach was also the chief executive of
Maserati and is currently chairman of Magma Group, an automotive
consultancy he founded.
Leach said Hybrid's first task if it wins the auction is to
look after existing owners of Fisker cars. "Then we've got more
than 400 suppliers that need to be re-engaged to be able to
restart production. That's a big challenge."
One of its key suppliers, battery maker A123 Systems Inc,
was bought by Wanxiang in a bankruptcy auction in 2012. Hybrid
has said it is exploring a partnership with Boston Power to
supply batteries if it wins the auction.
Fisker received a controversial U.S. government loan
originally worth $529 million in part to help start production
at a former General Motors Co plant in Delaware. That
factory was never put into production, but both bidders have
said they would consider making cars there.