An investor group headed by Hong Kong tycoon Richard Li purchased the federal loan made to Karma plug-in hybrid sports car maker Fisker Automotive and acquired the assets of the nearly defunct automaker.
Fisker has voluntarily filed petitions to liquidate under the U.S. Bankruptcy code, and Li's Hybrid Technology has committed up to $8 million in financing to fund the sale and Chapter 11 process.
The federal government, which had lent money to the Anaheim auto company under a Department of Energy clean vehicles program, will lose about $139 million on the deal.
"Because of these actions, along with the sale announced today, the Energy Department has protected nearly three-quarters of our original commitment to Fisker," said Bill Gibbons, a department spokesman.
The government said it has a commitment from Hybrid Technology to work to move the restart of Karma production to the U.S. from Finland and keep Fisker's design and engineering in California.
"As we continue to examine Fisker's opportunities, we will be making decisions about the structure and footprint of the new business," said Caroline Langdale, Hybrid Technology's spokeswoman. "This enterprise is vitally important to the advanced electric vehicle industry and the public in general."
Langdale declined to provide any information about her company, its owners or its timetable. People familiar with the transaction but who are not authorized to talk about it identified Li as the leader of the investment group.
Fisker halted production of the Karma last year as it ran into financial troubles. The car is a plug-in hybrid that can run on electricity and gasoline.
The sports car was designed by Henrik Fisker, who had worked on other high-end cars, including the Aston Martin DB9 and V-8 Vantage and the BMW Z8. The four-door Karma cut a dramatic silhouette on the road, with sweeping lines flowing around massive 22-inch wheels, a long hood and a cramped cabin, but has been hampered by reliability problems and several recalls.