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THINK Again

Pioneering electric-car maker gets new life with acquisition by Russian venture capitalist.

THINK Global AS, one of the first of the new-wave electric car manufacturers, is getting another chance to survive after bankruptcy. It has been purchased by prominent international technology entrepreneur Boris G. Zingarevich, who says he is committed to maintaining the company’s ongoing role in the slow process of global transportation electrification. A court-appointed trustee selected Zingarevich as the winning bidder following a bankruptcy proceeding initiated by the Norwegian carmaker last month.

Zingarevich, whose investment operations are based in St. Petersburg, Russia, has also signed a memorandum of understanding with American lithium-ion battery maker Ener1 Inc. and Finnish automobile engineering and manufacturing concern Valmet Automotive Inc. to cooperate in re-launching THINK. The electric-car company has had several masters and partners over the years, but none could realize the company’s potential as well as one of the first-movers in the electric-car business, which many think is due for a boom.

“Having achieved the position of one of the world’s most highly regarded electric vehicle products, the THINK brand is a valuable asset that deserves to continue its key role in the global shift to electrification,” says Zingarevich. “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.”

The assets of wholly owned subsidiaries THINK North America and THINK U.K., which have remained going concerns during the bankruptcy proceeding for THINK Global, were also acquired in the transaction. Both Ener1 and Valmet were the senior secured creditors of THINK when the company filed for bankruptcy after failing to raise adequate capital to continue financing operations. Now they are negotiating stakes in the new company. Zingarevich has been a major investor in Ener1 since 2002 and provided bridge funding for THINK while the company attempted reorganization before filing for bankruptcy.

The name of the new company that will market THINK brand products is Electric Mobility Solutions AS, registered in Norway. A new sales and service structure for THINK will be announced soon, and the restart of production of a refined version of the THINK City is scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2012.