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A123 confirms Wanxiang wins bid for bankrupt battery maker

NEW YORK (Reuters) - China's largest maker of auto parts won an auction for A123 Systems Inc , a bankrupt maker of batteries for electric cars that was funded partly with U.S. government money, A123 confirmed in a statement Sunday.

Wanxiang Group Corp's bid of $256.6 million topped a joint bid from Johnson Controls Inc of Milwaukee and Japan's NEC Corp <6701.T> for the maker of lithium-ion batteries.

The sale did not include A123's Michigan-based government business that works with the U.S. Defense Department, which was instead sold to Navitas Systems for $2.25 million, A123 said.

Wanxiang's winning bid came only one day after the Canadian government approved a controversial deal allowing China's state-owned oil company CNOOC <0883.HK> to buy energy company Nexen Inc for $15.1 billion.

The sale must be approved by Delaware Bankruptcy Court judge Kevin Carey at a hearing scheduled for Tuesday.

Opposition to the deal will likely focus on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which would need to approve the sale to Wanxiang.

U.S. politicians and retired military leaders have already pressed the government panel to reject Wanxiang.

(Reporting By Edward McAllister; Editing by Diane Craft)

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