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Fisker Fate Up In Air After Last-Minute Bid; Founders Sued As Well


Henrik Fisker

Henrik Fisker

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The fate of Fisker Automotive is back in court after a flurry of legal moves by various parties to the bankruptcy.

A court hearing is scheduled for Friday, January 10, to determine whether the bankrupt Fisker Automotive will be sold to a Hong Kong investment group or to Wanxiang, China's largest auto-parts maker.

2012 Fisker Karma with owner Meurice Lefevre, Alpharetta, GA, Oct 2013

2012 Fisker Karma with owner Meurice Lefevre, Alpharetta, GA, Oct 2013

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The hearing had been scheduled for today, but the snowstorm blanketing much of the U.S. caused it to be postponed for a week.

MORE: Who's Still Buying Brand-New Fisker Karmas, And Why?

Fisker itself wants the U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Kevin Gross to rule that investor Richard Li's $25 million bid for the company should be approved.

Those funds would go directly to the U.S. Department of Energy to pay off a portion of Fisker's outstanding $168 million low-interest loan.

Creditors want Wanxiang

But other creditors and investors favor a last-minute bid of $24.75 million by the U.S. unit of Wanxiang, which now owns A123 Systems, the battery supplier for the Fisker Karma range-extended electric luxury sedan.

On Monday, the creditors committee proposed that the bankruptcy court auction off the remains of Fisker rather than approve Li's bid, which it said had been accepted too quickly.

The legal moves were reported in two separate articles by Reuters.

Investor sues Henrik Fisker, directors

Adding to the legal maneuvering, Fisker investor Atlas Capital Management is suing co-founder Henrik Fisker and several former directors over $2 million in losses the fund sustained as a result of the bankruptcy, Bloomberg reports.

Henrik Fisker

Henrik Fisker

Enlarge Photo

The suit claims Fisker misled Atlas about its financial status prior to the group's investment in the automaker, alleging that problems with Fisker's Department of Energy loan and a 2011 safety recall were kept secret.

Atlas claims Fisker deliberately issued "materially false and misleading statements" while trying to raise capital.

The investor group said that--had it known the true extent of Fisker's financial issues--it would not have invested in the maker of $106,000 range-extended electric luxury sedans.

Atlas also claims that Fisker hid details on the December 2011 recall of 239 Karma extended-range electric cars until the day after a financing round closed.

The recall was meant to fix misaligned hose clamps in the Karma's battery cooling system, which could have caused coolant leaks.

Fisker launched a second recall in August 2012 to fix faulty cooling fans. Over 300 Karmas affected by this recall were destroyed during Superstorm Sandy; they were stored awaiting new cooling fans at Port Newark, New Jersey, when the storm hit.

18 months of turmoil

But the unfortunate Fisker Automotive has had to deal with more than just recalls: The company hasn't built a car in more than 18 months.

Auto assembly at Finnish subcontractor Valmet was originally halted by the bankruptcy of battery supplier A123 Systems, but recalls and other financial kept production at a standstill.

Henrik Fisker left his namesake company last March, and Fisker Automotive ultimately laid off most of its workforce before finally declaring bankruptcy in November.

Fisker's assets were sold to Hybrid Technology Holdings, a Hong Kong-based investor group that also paid $25 million against outstanding government loans as part of the deal. That leaves about $139 million in losses on the DoE loans.

The new buyer's plans for Fisker remain unclear, with the secretive company presumably now drawing up plans for the brand while declining to respond to media inquiries.

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