Fisker Karma

The Fisker Automotive saga will continue until at least next month, now that a bankruptcy court judge has ruled that the automaker's assets will go up for auction in February instead of being acquired flat out by a Hong Kong investor. Wanxiang Group, which owns A123 Systems, is competing with Hybrid Tech Holdings LLC for Fisker.

The judge says Hybrid Tech, which holds debt on Fisker, can't use any more than $25 million of that debt as part of its bid for the California-based automaker, according to Bloomberg News. Hybrid Tech is run by Richard Li, son of Li Ka-Shing, Hong Kong's wealthiest man, and the company bought Fisker's loan from the US Department of Energy. Fisker's line of credit from the DOE was originally for $529 million, but 'only' $192 million was drawn down before the government shut that spigot off.

Wanxiang Group bid $25.8 million (plus assumed debt) for Fisker in late December, then increased its offer to $35.7 million earlier this month. Wanxiang Group acquired most of the assets of lithium-ion battery maker A123 Systems in 2012, and Fisker has maintained that Wanxiang hastened Fisker's demise by holding off battery deliveries. Fisker shut down production of its extended-range plug-in Karma in 2012 and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year.