Johnson Controls appeals A123 sale

Glendale-based Johnson Controls has filed an appeal of the sale of A123 Systems Inc. to Chinese automotive parts company Wanxiang.

Johnson Controls had entered an agreement to purchase the automotive business assets of the bankrupt Waltham, Mass.-based battery manufacturer in October.

But Wanxiang outbid Johnson Controls and a U.S. bankruptcy judge approved the $256 million sale to Wanxiang last week.
Now, Johnson Controls is seeking a breakup fee and expense reimbursement that was approved by the court under its stalking horse agreement with A123.

“We appreciated the opportunity to serve as stalking horse, which resulted in significant value to the estate, creditors and employees,” said Alex Molinaroli, president, Johnson Controls Power Solutions.

A123 put the breakup and expense funds in escrow when Johnson Controls began lobbying against the sale to Wanxiang.

“As a market leader and major employer with significant operations in the United States, we have expertise and insights regarding the industries we serve, which are important resources for leaders and decision makers,” Molinaroli said. “Our representatives regularly provide educational material and expert opinions on many topics including advanced batteries, lithium-ion technology and the various applications they serve.”

The Glendale company has expressed concern about potential national security risks related to the core technology used in A123’s businesses. Johnson Controls has maintained that these risks to the sale can be resolved through a government review process.

“Should the sale of A123 Systems to Wanxiang not be completed for any reason, Johnson Controls remains open to considering future opportunities to acquire relevant portions of A123’s assets, keeping this critically important technology in the United States, preserving jobs and furthering the purpose of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act,” Molinaroli said.

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