Johnson Controls, the sole American bidder to U.S. battery maker A123, is appealing the company’s sale to Chinese firm Wanxiang Group.
“We appreciated the opportunity to serve as stalking horse, which resulted in significant value to the estate, creditors and employees,” Alex Molinaroli, president of Johnson Controls Power Solutions, said yesterday in a statement.
Johnson Controls isn’t trying to get a second stab at buying A123. Instead, the company is trying to recover a $5.5 million payment it was meant to receive in the event of being outbid.
A123 filed for bankruptcy on October 16 and early this month was bid on by several companies hoping to take control. The bidding took place in Chicago behind closed doors with reports suggesting NEC, Siemens, Johnson Controls and Wanxiang Group were all bidders at the time. When the smoke cleared, Wangxiang of China had made the most attractive offer.
Far from going unnoticed, the possibility raised concerns about tax dollars and sensitive military technology being sold to a private Chinese firm. While the notion that A123′s contracts with the U.S. military and the corresponding technology were quelled quickly, the matter of millions in tax dollars being passed to Wanxiang is still causing a stir.
Even before the bidding and possible sale was announced, Republican member of Congress, Marsha Blackburn wrote in a blog post that any sale of A123 to the Chinese had significant implications for U.S. national interests.
The deal with Wanxiang is also still subject to review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. before A123 can be officially sold.