Exclusive: Bob Lutz, Chinese in bid to buy Fisker Automotive - sources

Tue May 21, 2013 7:52pm EDT
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By Deepa Seetharaman

DETROIT (Reuters) - A boutique carmaker led by former General Motors Co executive Bob Lutz and China's largest auto parts supplier made an offer this month to buy cash-strapped "green" car company Fisker Automotive, people familiar with the matter said.

VL Automotive and China's Wanxiang Group are looking to gain control of Fisker through a prepackaged bankruptcy. This comes alongside a separate push by investors in Europe and Hong Kong, including billionaire Richard Li, to buy out the U.S. Department of Energy's position in Fisker.

Sources cautioned that efforts to revive Fisker are ongoing and may fall apart. They spoke on a condition of anonymity because the talks are private.

Fisker, maker of the $100,000-plus Karma plug-in hybrid, has faced a barrage of negative news this year while it scrambles to find a buyer and preserve cash. Fisker hired bankruptcy advisers and fired most of its workforce this year.

The automaker, which has not built a car since July, is also struggling to repay its federal loan. Last month, Republican lawmakers grilled company co-founders Henrik Fisker and Barny Koehler over the automaker's finances.

Henrik Fisker left the automaker over "major disagreements" with the company's executive team in March. Since then he's been in touch with various investor groups to discuss a potential role for himself in car company should Fisker finds a new owner, sources said.

Fisker, Wanxiang, VL Automotive and the DOE were not immediately available for comment. Henrik Fisker declined to comment through a spokesman.

HALF OFF THE KARMA   Continued...

The logo of an extended rage electric vehicle Fisker Karma is pictured at the start of an electric car rally from Tallinn to Monte-Carlo in Tallinn June 1, 2012. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins