By Drew Johnson
Friday, Dec 21st, 2012 @ 11:42 am
 
Wanxiang Group, the new owner of A123 Systems Inc, says that fears that the battery maker will be turned into a full-fledge Chinese company are overblown. China-based Wanxiang purchased A123 at bankruptcy auction earlier this year.
"A123 is an American company and will be an American company," Pin Ni, head of Wanxiang's U.S. operations and son-in-law of the group's founder, told Reuters.

"We have been creating and saving jobs in our investments in the U.S., and I am proud of that."

Ni added that A123 would not be merged with Wanxiang's lithium-ion battery unit.

Law makers have largely opposed A123's sale to Wanxiang due to the company's federal funding. A123 was awarded a $249 million federal grant, $133 million of which was tapped to build two production facilities in Michigan. Capitol Hill has also voiced concerns about the Chinese government using A123's battery know-how.

However, A123 itself doesn't share those worries.

"I don't personally see any national security considerations associated with making batteries in China. We have been doing that for the last six years," said David Vieau, chief executive of A123.

"I am not sure how that can be perceived as a threat, but that is not for me to decide."

A123 currently has about 1,000 workers in China.

Although the A123 deal was approved by a bankruptcy judge, it still must win the blessing of a U.S. committee before going official.