UUSIKAUPUNKI FINLAND (July 26, 2 p.m. ET) — After declaring bankruptcy last month in the fourth financial restructuring in its 20-year history, the small and oft-troubled Norwegian electric car maker Think Global AS has a new owner, the company announced July 25.
A court-appointed trustee in Norway selected Russian oligarch Boris Zingarevich as the winning bidder for Think's assets, including independent subsidiaries Think North America and Think UK, which were not part of the bankruptcy filing, the automaker said in a statement.
Plastic-bodied car maker Think had declared bankruptcy on June 22 after recapitalization and restructuring efforts failed.
Zingarevich also signed a memorandum of understanding with battery maker Ener1 Inc. and contract manufacturer Valmet Automotive Inc. of Finland to produce the vehicle, Think said.
“With the potential of working with the leading American automotive lithium ion battery maker and Europe's top automobile engineering and manufacturing company, I believe we could have exactly the right combination and value chain to ensure that the brand will be increasingly competitive in the worldwide electric vehicle market,” Zingarevich said in a statement.
Ener1 and Valmet were among Think's secured creditors when it declared bankruptcy, and Think said the two suppliers are in the process of acquiring stakes in the automaker as a part of debt restructuring.
Zingarevich has been an investor in Ener1 since 2002 and loaned Think money before it filed for bankruptcy last month, the company said.
Think also announced the creation of Electric Mobility Solutions AS in Norway, which will market Think vehicles.
Think said it plans to restart production of its lone model, the City, in the first quarter of next year and will soon announce a new sales and service structure.
European production of the City stopped in March. At the time, Think said it halted output at Valmet's Uusikaupunki, Finland, plant to rebalance inventory.
Think North America spokesman Brendan Prebo said production at the company's Elkhart, Ind., plant slowed in April and stopped in June. Production is expected to restart soon, he said.
Think nearly collapsed in 2008 during the height of the global economic downturn, but it found new investors and restarted production in late 2009. Ford Motor Co. owned Think from mid-1999 through January 2003.