New CEO for A123 Systems as battery company turns more to China

A123 Systems, the lithium-ion battery maker that was acquired out of bankruptcy in January, has promoted Jason Forcier to chief executive officer and said it would attempt to build up its business by attracting more China-based customers, Reuters reports. The company also said its executives would be based at the company's factory in Livonia, MI. Forcier had previously headed A123's auto division.

China-based Wanxiang Group bought A123's assets for about $257 million in January after the buyout was approved by the US government and concerns that US battery-technology trade secrets would be leaked to China were overruled. A123, whose customers include General Motors, BMW and China-based SAIC Motor Corp., had received about $249 million in US Department of Energy grant funding. Even so, the company filed for Chapter 11 protection in October 2012, citing lower-than-expected sales from companies such as extended-range plug-in vehicle maker Fisker Automotive (which was also blaming A123). That company hasn't produced a car in more than a year.

US-based Johnson Controls was expected to be the lead bidder for A123's assets last year, though Wanxiang eventually won out. Wanxiang generates about $1 billion a year in revenue selling parts to Ford and General Motors, and has invested in about two-dozen US companies, a Congressional report says.

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