Henrik Fisker joins Hong Kong tycoon to salvage Fisker: sources

Fri May 24, 2013 10:51am EDT
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By Deepa Seetharaman and Norihiko Shirouzu

DETROIT/BEIJING (Reuters) - Henrik Fisker is working with an investor group to salvage Fisker Automotive, the "green" car company he co-founded nearly six years ago that is now struggling to stave off bankruptcy, people familiar with the matter said this week.

The discussions follow Henrik Fisker's resignation from the company in March after finding himself increasingly at odds with other top executives over strategy.

The well-regarded car designer is now teamed up with an investor group led by Hong Kong billionaire and Fisker investor Richard Li. The group is looking to buy the U.S. Department of Energy's loan to Fisker without making the car company resort to bankruptcy.

The Henrik Fisker-Richard Li team is one of at least two groups seeking to revive the automaker. A separate group including former General Motors Co GM.N executive Bob Lutz is looking to buy Fisker for $20 million, sources said on Wednesday.

Southern California-based Fisker Automotive is known for its plug-in hybrid sports car, the Karma, which starts at $103,000. The company has not built a car since last July.

Fisker must repay $171 million in DOE loans extended in 2009 under a program intended to promote advanced vehicles. The loans have been one source of pressure on Fisker, which hired bankruptcy advisers this year and has been looking for a buyer.

The DOE is examining the legal ramifications of selling the loan, a person familiar with the DOE's thinking said Thursday.

Such a step would not resolve any outstanding debt owed to suppliers. The company faces a steep challenge to regain credibility after a string of financial and quality setbacks.   Continued...

Henrik Fisker, co-founder, executive chairman, and chief designer at Fisker Automotive speaks during the Chicago Auto Show, February 7, 2013. REUTERS/John Gress