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Fisker hires law firm to prepare for possible bankruptcy -source

The Fisker automotive electric Atlantic sedan logo is seen during its unveiling ahead of the 2012 International Auto Show in New York April
The Fisker automotive electric Atlantic sedan logo is seen during its unveiling ahead of the 2012 International Auto Show in New York April

By Nick Brown and Deepa Seetharaman

NEW YORK/DETROIT (Reuters) - Fisker Automotive, the green-car company that has not built a car since July, has hired law firm Kirkland & Ellis to advise it on a possible bankruptcy filing, a person close to the matter said on Thursday.

Kirkland's Anup Sathy, a bankruptcy lawyer who handled the Chapter 11 filings of General Growth Properties and Innkeepers USA Trust, is advising the U.S. automaker, the source said, declining to be named because the matter is not public.

Neither Kirkland & Ellis nor Sathy were immediately available to comment.

Fisker, which furloughed its more than 200 U.S. workers this week to conserve cash, has been exploring bankruptcy as an option while it continues to look for a strategic partner, two other sources briefed on the matter said late on Wednesday.

A Fisker spokesman declined to comment on Thursday.

Next month, Fisker must make a payment on a U.S. Department of Energy loan that was extended to the company in 2009 as part of an Obama administration program to spur advanced vehicle development. Fisker declined to divulge the amount of the loan payment, which is due April 22.

Fisker had drawn down $193 million of its $529 million federal loan before U.S. officials froze the credit line, citing delays in the launch of Fisker's flagship car, the Karma plug-in hybrid. The remaining money was earmarked to develop Fisker's second model, the Atlantic plug-in hybrid.

Fisker had been in talks with Chinese automakers Dongfeng Motor Group <0489.HK> and Zhejiang Geely Holding Group to gauge their interest in acquiring a majority stake in Fisker. The talks were unsuccessful.

Fisker's chief executive, Tony Posawatz, visited China this week to try to rekindle those deals, sources previously said.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the hiring of Kirkland & Ellis.

(Reporting by Nick Brown in New York and Deepa Seetharaman in Detroit; additional reporting by Paul Lienert in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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