The Detroit News reports that China's Wanxiang Group Corporation will acquire almost all of bankrupt A123 Systems Inc. for $256 million. The deal includes all of the American battery manufacturer's grid and commercial business assets as well as the company's facilities in Michigan, Massachusetts and Missouri. Meanwhile, Woodridge, Illinois-based Navitas Systems will purchase all of A123 Systems' government contracts for $2.25 million.
Previously, Johnson Controls was a leading bidder for the bankrupt EV battery manufacturer, but that company withdrew its bids from the bankruptcy auction after declining to match Wanxiang's highest bid. But the final sale will be subject to approval by the bankruptcy court handling the case in Delaware, and some members of Congress have reportedly raised concerns over the sale.
Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Michigan, said he was concerned about Wanxiang taking over A123 Systems because of the battery maker's close ties with the US Defense Department. Huizenga has been quoted as saying, "I am concerned about the government of China having access to sensitive technologies being used by our military forces."
This isn't the first time we've heard those rumblings. Back in August, several US automotive executives said Wanxiang's purchase of A123 Systems could put industry trade secrets at risk, including cutting-edge lithium-ion battery technology. Likewise, November saw US senators John Thune, R-South Dakota, and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, raise concerns over the Chinese company's interest in the bankrupt battery maker.