Solyndra LLC, the solar-panel maker that received a $535 million U.S. Energy Department loan guarantee before going bankrupt, won court approval to hold an auction for its Fremont, California, manufacturing plant.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Mary Walrath granted the company approval of procedures that will govern the auction at a hearing today in Wilmington, Delaware.
Solyndra has an initial offer from a unit of Dublin-based Seagate Technology Plc to buy the property for $90.3 million, setting the floor for other potential buyers to beat at the auction, according to court documents.
The solar-panel maker tentatively scheduled a Nov. 15 hearing to seek court approval to sell the plant, built partly using the government funds.
“There is an issue on the timing of when the sale would take place,” Joshua M. Fried, an attorney for Solyndra, told Walrath. Some of the people Seagate needs to complete the sale may not be available at that time, he said. If the chosen timeframe doesn’t work for Seagate, “then we will have to hold the sale hearing a couple weeks later,” Fried said.
Solyndra has been liquidating its assets since February after failing to negotiate a deal with a buyer willing to restart operations, according to court papers. So far it has generated about $14.1 million from sales of assets such as solar-panel tubes, manufacturing equipment, appliances and memorabilia and apparel emblazoned with its logo.
Solyndra was forced to shut down operations and fire most of its 1,100 workers on Aug. 31, 2011. The solar-panel maker listed $854.1 million in assets and $867.1 million in debt in court papers filed Oct. 31.
The company’s collapse prompted congressional scrutiny of President Barack Obama, who praised Solyndra during a May 2010 tour of its facilities. It was the first company to receive a loan guarantee under Obama’s stimulus program.
The case is In re Solyndra LLC, 11-12799, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).