Solyndra says needs more time to find buyers

(Reuters) - Bankrupt solar panel maker Solyndra LLC said it needed more than the initially expected four weeks to find a buyer to take over its idled operations, which were funded with a controversial $535 million federal loan guarantee.

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Solyndra filed for bankruptcy this month with a plan to try to find a buyer by early October who could restart its recently shuttered factory and rehire some of its 1,000 staff.

Republican lawmakers have accused the Obama administration of ignoring signs of financial trouble at the company in its haste to grant the loan guarantee and participate in a groundbreaking of Solyndra’s federally backed factory in California.

The company said in documents filed late on Friday with Delaware’s bankruptcy court that it now proposes to accept bids until October 25, although it does not have an initial bidder.

If multiple bids qualify under its proposed guidelines, an auction will be held on October 28 at a San Francisco law office. The company plans to seek the approval of the bankruptcy court for the sale on November 2.

The company said it had hired investment bankers from Imperial Capital LLC and they had contacted 100 prospective buyers.

If the company fails to find a buyer who can restart its manufacturing, it has said it plans to liquidate the company’s equipment in a piecemeal sale.

Solyndra filed for bankruptcy on September 6, burdened with $783 million of secured debt and squeezed by falling prices for panels caused by an industry glut.

The Department of Energy guaranteed the $535 million loan to the company, which Solyndra has said may not be repaid in full.

The Solyndra debacle has also been fraught with accusations of political favoritism, as the company’s biggest shareholder -- Argonaut Ventures -- is backed by Obama fundraiser George Kaiser.

Solyndra’s offices were raided by the FBI two days after the company filed for bankruptcy, although the FBI did not say what prompted the raid.

The proposed auction procedures must be approved by the bankruptcy court.

The case is Solyndra LLC, Case No. 11-12799, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware.

Reporting by Tom Hals in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania; Editing by Xavier Briand