Johnson Controls Withdraws from A123 Bankruptcy Auction

Johnson Controls is opting out of the planned acquisition of A123 assets.

Johnson Controls said Dec. 9 it officially withdrew from the bankruptcy auction to acquire portions of A123 Systems when it declined to match a higher bid submitted by Wanxiang.

Subsequently A123 representatives have announced they selected Wanxiang’s bid of $257 million as the best offer for the total company over a set of competing complementary bids by Johnson Controls for the automotive and government assets and NEC for the grid and commercial assets.

As is usual for such matters, the final sale is subject to approval by the bankruptcy court. A hearing is currently scheduled for Dec. 11.

The sale to Wanxiang is also subject to review by the Committee for Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) and requires approval by the U.S. government. None of the involved parties can confirm any timing for such review and approvals.

“While A123′s automotive and government assets were complementary to Johnson Controls’ portfolio and aligned with our long-term goals, Wanxiang’s offer was beyond the value of those assets to Johnson Controls,” said Alex Molinaroli, president, Johnson Controls Power Solutions. “Reports by other parties that our proposal involved an elimination of jobs in Michigan are inaccurate.”

Johnson Controls said as it was announcing the withdrawal of its bid that it was the first in the world to produce li-ion batteries for mass-production vehicles, and also launched the first U.S. facility to produce complete li-ion battery cells and packs for hybrid and electric vehicles, in Holland, Mich.

“Johnson Controls remains committed to the advanced battery industry and shares the Department of Energy’s goal to advance the domestic capability in the United States,” said Molinaroli.

A123 had not yet commented on the matter when we uploaded this article, early Monday morning, Dec. 10. We will update with any relevant info as soon as possible.