Solyndra Postpones Auction of Assets

Solyndra, the solar panel maker that famously went bust after inking $535 million in federal loan guarantees and roughly $1 billion in venture capital, has postponed an auction for its California manufacturing plant, Reuters reported Thursday. The auction has been put off for two months, and will allow new buyers to examine the company’s assets, Solyndra’s lawyers said.

(Reuters) – Solyndra LLC, the failed solar panel maker at the center of a political firestorm in Washington, did not receive any acceptable bids by a Wednesday night deadline, and postponed an auction for its California manufacturing plant for two months.

The extra time will allow potential “turnkey” buyers to examine Solyndra’s assets, the company’s lawyers said in a notice filed in federal bankruptcy court in Delaware.

The postponement came hours before a Capitol Hill hearing where Republicans are expected to grill Energy Secretary Steven Chu over his role in decisions on a $535 million loan guarantee for Solyndra.

Chu has said the Energy Department restructured the debt when the company ran out of cash in a last-chance deal, one the department hoped would result in the best recovery of taxpayer money even if the company failed.

The lack of strong bids could bolster Republican arguments the department did not properly assess Solyndra’s true value.

Other U.S. solar companies that have filed for bankruptcy this year as prices for panels plunged were unable to find a buyer for the entire business.

Solyndra has said it hopes to find a “turnkey” buyer who can step in, restart production and rehire some of the company’s 1,000 idled workers.

The company had been set to auction its assets on Friday, a sale that will now happen on Jan. 19 providing acceptable “turnkey” bids are received by Jan. 17 — a timetable it said it set after consulting with key creditors.

“While no acceptable turnkey bid was received by the prior bid deadline, parties continue to express interest in acquiring the debtors’ assets on a turnkey basis,” the filing said, noting the “complexity” of the company requires more time for potential buyers to conduct due diligence.

If no acceptable bids come forward, Solyndra plans to seek court approval to auction off assets during the last week of January, the filing said.

That backup plan would see separate sales of Solyndra’s intellectual property, real estate and equipment, a source close to the sale told Reuters earlier this week.

“The debtors believe that this ‘dual track’ process will maximize value,” the notice said.

The bankruptcy case is In re Solyndra LLC, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware, No. 11-12799 (By Jeremy Pelofsky and Roberta Rampton)