Fisker Automotive Inc., the U.S. plug-in hybrid carmaker seeking a buyer, is weighing several bids, including a $350 million offer from Dongfeng Motor Corp. that would give the Chinese carmaker majority control, said people with knowledge of the matter.
Dongfeng, based in Wuhan, China, would gain 85 percent of Fisker under the terms of its bid, said one of the people, who asked not to be named because the process is private. Fisker had sought bids by Feb. 6, according to that person.
“The company has received detailed proposals from multiple parties in different continents, which are now being evaluated by the company and its advisers,” Roger Ormisher, a spokesman for Fisker, said in an e-mail. He declined to elaborate.
Teaming up with Dongfeng could help Anaheim, California- based Fisker solidify its turnaround and give it the funds to pay back loans from the U.S. government. The maker of the Karma luxury rechargeable-car had to halt production last year after battery supplier A123 Systems Inc. filed for bankruptcy, and said on Feb. 7 that it would begin making vehicles again “fairly soon.”
Calls to Dongfeng’s offices in Wuhan and Hong Kong seeking comment weren’t answered. Chinese businesses are closed for the weeklong lunar new year break.
The Karma, which sells for more than $100,000, is an advanced plug-in hybrid car that runs on an electric motor and has an on-board gasoline-burning engine that recharges the battery. The powertrain is similar to that of General Motors Co.’s Chevrolet Volt.
Fisker, led by Chief Executive Officer Tony Posawatz, said in December that it was working with Evercore Partners Inc. to find potential investors or partners. Without a partner or a buyer by midyear, Fisker may face a cash crunch, a person familiar with the matter said last month. Posawatz once served as vehicle line director for the Volt.
Fisker still owes the U.S. Energy Department about $200 million from a loan program the agency pulled last year following the bankruptcy filing of solar-panel maker Solyndra LLC. Fisker also hired Chicago-based Huron Consulting Group Inc. to help run day-to-day operations, with Huron’s Hugh Sawyer serving as chief administration officer.
If Dongfeng’s bid wins and a deal is done, the company may eventually move Fisker production to China, one of the people said. The company hired Finnish manufacturer Valmet Automotive to produce the Karma.
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