China's Wanxiang wins U.S. bankruptcy auction for Fisker Automotive

A logo of Wanxiang Group is seen at China International Auto Parts Expo in Beijing, April 24, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

(Reuters) - Wanxiang Group, China’s largest auto parts company, won a bankruptcy auction for the assets of Fisker Automotive, the defunct manufacturer of the Karma plug-in hybrid sports car, Fisker said on Friday.

Wanxiang’s bid has been valued at about $149.2 million, representing $126.2 million of cash, $8 million of assumed liabilities, and a contribution of common equity in an affiliate designated by Wanxiang, Fisker said in a statement.

The sale will be presented to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday for approval by Judge Kevin Gross.

Wanxiang outbid an affiliate of Richard Li, a Hong Kong billionaire and Fisker investor, said two sources who were briefed on the auction.

The auction began on Wednesday and ended on Friday. Li had presented an initial bid of around $55 million, the sources said. There were 19 rounds of bidding, according to Fisker.

California-based Fisker was the brainchild of Henrik Fisker, a former BMW designer. The company’s elegant cars were hobbled by cost overruns and tech glitches and in 2012 it stopped production to conserve cash.

Wanxiang has been building a U.S. manufacturing presence and last year the U.S. government cleared it to acquire the bankrupt assets of A123 Systems Inc, which made Fisker batteries.

Both Fisker and A123 were funded in part with loans from the U.S. government that were meant to foster clean-fuel technologies. Wanxiang outbid Johnson Controls Inc for A123, and the Chinese company also overcame an active lobbying effort to block it from obtaining technology developed with U.S. taxpayer money.

Fisker filed for bankruptcy in November with a plan to sell its assets to Li in return for Li forgiving a portion of the U.S. government loan he had bought. Fisker creditors opposed that plan, which would have left them with almost nothing, and instead teamed up with Wanxiang and pushed for an auction.

Additional reporting by Aditi Shrivastava; Editing by Lisa Shumaker