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Chinese firm acquires bankrupt battery maker A123

A123 Systems Inc.'s battery manufacturing facility in Livonia, Michigan. The company filed for bankruptcy on Tuesday.
A123 Systems Inc.
A123 Systems Inc.'s battery manufacutring facility in Livonia, Michigan.

A123, the bankrupt battery company with factories in Livonia and Romulus, announced Sunday that a Chinese firm will acquire most of its assets.

In an auction administered by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, Wanxiang Group Corp. purchased most of the company’s commercial business assets for $256.6 million.

The acquisition has some Republican lawmakers worried.

From the Detroit Free Press:

U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Zeeland) issued a statement Monday afternoon saying Wanxiang’s acquisition of A123 raises concerns on his part even though its defense operations were sold to another company. “The technology developed by A123 is a core component to their work in the automotive, grid and telecommunications sectors,” Huizenga said. “This core technology and intellectual property cannot be separated along A123’s business lines. Additionally, I have concerned regarding what safeguard are in place between Wanxiang and the government of China.”

A123’s Ann Arbor-based government business, including military contracts, were acquired by Navitas Systems of Woodbridge, Illinois.

Huizenga was joined in his criticism by U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley of Iowa and John Thune of South Dakota.

They worry that a $249 million grant from the federal government to A123 is now benefiting a Chinese company.

However, not all of the grant was made available to A123 and most of the money was spent on U.S. based facilities and equipment, The Free Press reports.

The sale is awaiting final approval from the bankruptcy court. A hearing is set for Tuesday.

Jordan Wyant, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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