A123 looks to China

A Chinese company’s plan to invest in A123 Systems may save the Waltham battery maker, but the deal is another blow to the US economy and the country’s efforts to subsidize green technologies.

Dave Vieau, the CEO of A123, announced the deal in a conference call with analysts on Wednesday morning. He said Wanxiang Group Corp. had signed a nonbinding memorandum of understanding committing it to provide $75 million in bridge financing and to purchase $200 million of A123 debt.  Wanxiang, China’s largest automotive parts manufacturer, could also invest another $175 million and gain control of 80 percent of A123’s stock.

“We believe that Wanxiang’s capital investment will remove the uncertainty regarding A123’s financial situation and enable us to resolve our liquidity constraints that have impacted business growth,” Vieau said.

The announcement was another sign of Chinese economic strength and another setback for US efforts to bolster home-grown companies with exciting green technologies. Evergreen Solar and Solyndra have already fallen victim to Chinese dominance in the solar industry. Now the Chinese are on the verge of taking over a company with electric car battery technology so promising that it received nearly $250 million in federal support, a $5 million forgivable loan from Massachusetts, and a hefty package of grants, loans, and tax credits from Michigan, where A123 built a factory.

Republicans are raising concerns about sensitive technology falling into the hands of the Chinese. An op-ed in the Wall Street Journal warns that China wants to become the car factory for the world and US companies seem to be providing the technological know-how to do it. The Herald piles on in an editorial.

Perhaps the most disappointing piece of news is contained in a Reuters article detailing how US battery makers, often with government financial support, overbuilt in anticipation of much larger electric car sales. As the Reuters piece said: “A123 promised to create 38,000 US jobs, including 5,900 at its own plants. A123 said on Thursday it has 1,300 workers.”

                                                                                                                                                        –BRUCE MOHL

BEACON HILL

The Legislature has sent a bill to Gov. Deval Patrick’s desk that would require doctors to check a statewide database to monitor prescription drug abuse and patients who go “doctor shopping” to feed their habit.

Employees of the state pension board are poised to share more than $800,000 in bonus payments even though the fund recorded a small loss in the most recent fiscal year.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Two Springfield officials say that MGM Resorts International is interested in property in the city’s South End for a casino project.

Pittsfield appoints a committee to steer an update to its city charter.

It’s bad enough that the local ballclub can’t win a game. Boston’s Fenway neighborhood is also infested with rats.

ELECTION 2012

A cyber war rages in the Sixth District, with the launch of tiseifacts.com and tierneystales.com, the Item reports. The Herald dubs the contest “the Bay State’s dirtiest race.”

WBUR examines where the two US Senate candidates stand on deficit reduction.

The Globe reports that Massachusetts was the only state to carry out a mass mailing of voter registration forms to welfare recipients as part of its settlement of a lawsuit charging violations of the 1993 federal voter registration law. The Christian Science Monitor takes a look at the “welfare voters” dispute. The state’s welfare commissioner says he’s never spoken to anyone tied to the Warren campaign, calling the charges that he’s maneuvering against Sen. Scott Brown “ridiculous.”

Just in time for the end-of-summer awakening by voters: The Top 10 smartphone apps for the 2012 campaign, from U.S. News & World Report.

The First Congressional District Democratic primary race heats up as Bill Stein accuses Berkshire Middle District register of deeds and former state senator Andrea Nuciforo of plagiarism.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

A priest doubles down and takes charge of two churches in Peabody, and may add a third because of the shortage of priests, the Salem News reports.

The Justice Department and the SEC deepen their foreign bribery investigation of Las Vegas Sands, the casino company controlled by Sheldon Adelson.

EDUCATION

Salem is negotiating to extend the school day by an hour, the Salem News reports.

Wareham officials have decided to close an elementary school and drop two sports rather than lay off teachers to close a budget deficit.

An arbitrator says the Boston School Department improperly laid off about four dozen clerical workers who handle special education cases, a ruling that could cost the city $2 million.

The Wall Street Journal is underwhelmed by education reforms in New Jersey, saying Gov. Chris Christie’s big moment is only bold “by the denuded standards of modern public education.”

HEALTH CARE

Steward Health Care cuts 24 jobs at Holy Family Hospital in Methuen by winding down a surgery rehabilitation unit, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

A flash mob performs in Lynn in support of healthy living, and even US Rep. John Tierney joins in, the Item reports.

TRANSPORTATION

An MBTA bus driver is being charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon after running her bus into a traffic enforcement officer and other cars following the receipt of a ticket, NECN reports. The T driver is no stranger to tickets.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The widespread mosquito spraying this summer that killed off the main food supply for bats is being blamed for an influx of the flying rodents invading homes on the South Shore.

Attacks by a rabid woodchuck and a rabid fox in Fairhaven and Dartmouth have officials concerned about an outbreak of the disease in the area.

A dredging project in Mattapoisett has been temporarily halted because of concerns over piping plovers.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Judicial Court ruled that judges cannot be forced to reveal their inner thinking or share notes related to decisions they make. The case stems from allegations leveled by Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley that Boston Municipal Court Judge Raymond Dougan has shown consistent bias against police and prosecutors.

A single Supreme Judicial Court justice heard arguments yesterday in a suit by Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey to halt live-streaming of court proceedings in Quincy District Court until tighter regulations are in place.

Police find bones at the former Chelmsford home of Judith Ann Chartier, a teenager who went missing in 1982, the Sun reports.

A Boston firefighter admits he used a fire hydrant to fill his neighbor’s above-ground pool, NECN reports.

Peter Gelzinis uses Whitey Bulger’s immunity claim to air the Boston FBI’s dirty laundry.

MEDIA

The New York Times public editor shares the email he is sending out to readers who have complained about an article about Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones.