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Battery maker A123 names new CEO, reorganizes

DETROIT (Reuters) - Electric car battery maker A123 Systems LLC named a new chief executive and outlined its structure as it moves forward after being purchased in bankruptcy by a Chinese company.

The maker of lithium-ion batteries used in electric cars has named Jason Forcier as CEO and a member of the company's board, overseeing all battery and transportation business, product development and manufacturing globally. He had been president of A123's auto business.

A123 filed for bankruptcy last October due to weaker-than-expected demand for hybrid vehicles and technical problems, and the auto-related assets were purchased for $257 million in January by China's largest auto parts maker, Wanxiang Group.

A123, which had been run by board members Pin Ni, president of Wanxiang America, and Tom Corcoran, announced the move on Wednesday.

The company had received a $249 million grant from the U.S. government as part of a clean energy program to build manufacturing facilities in Michigan. About half the money was never released.

A123 makes batteries for BMW hybrid 3- and 5-Series cars, and General Motors Co's all-electric Chevrolet Spark. China's SAIC Motor Corp <600104.SS> is also a customer.

Forcier said in January that with Wanxiang's backing, A123 would invest in areas where it sees growth, including batteries for hybrid and microhybrid vehicles. While the auto business was expected to make up half of the company's sales this year, the electric grid unit was expected to become its largest business within the next several years.

Forcier also said in January that A123 hoped to leverage its ties to Wanxiang into more business in China, where it operates through a joint venture with SAIC Motor Corp Ltd. <600104.SS>

Under the reorganization, the company said the transportation business retains the A123 Systems brand and Ed Kopkowski was named president of the group. Mujeeb Ijaz was appointed president of A123 Venture Technologies, which operates the company's research arm.

The board also oversees A123 Energy Solutions, which is the business unit focused on grid energy storage and commercial applications, the company said. Bud Collins remains president of that business.

The executive team of A123 will be headquartered at the company's Livonia, Michigan, facility, the company said.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman; editing by Matthew Lewis)

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