(Yicai Global) Nov. 18 -- A unit of China Youngman Automobile Group that is most known for its failed attempt to acquire Swedish carmaker Saab Automobile has been declared bankrupt, heralding the ruin of founder Pang Qingnian's once-flourishing auto empire.
Hangzhou Youngman Automobile completed bankruptcy procedures on Oct. 21 with almost 28.5 percent of its debt settled, according to a recent announcement on the People's Court website. It had defaulted on wages and other arrears since 2016 leading to dozens of lawsuits.
Founded by controversial entrepreneur Pang in 2008, the company had held stakes in over 10 automakers connected to the Youngman brand, a direct English translation of Pang's Chinese name. In 2009, Pang had plans to invest CNY44.4 billion (USD6.3 billion) to build 10 production bases nationwide and boost the firm's output to about 1.5 million cars a year.
The firm formed Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile, a joint venture with Proton Holdings, the parent company of British sports carmaker Lotus Cars, and they went on to develop Lotus-branded cars for the Chinese and export markets.
However, after the expiry of its technology collaboration with Lotus in 2011 and following a failed bid for Saab in 2012, the Hangzhou-based firm lost the wherewithal to manufacture new models and started to slip into decline.
Parent company China Youngman is also in liquidation. The firm had a highflying past. Set up by Pang in 2001, the Zhejiang province-based company owned the China business of Germany's Neoplan Bus, a manufacturer of buses, trolleybuses and coaches. It dominated the luxury bus market in the early 2000s with starting prices of CNY2 million (USD285,000) per vehicle.
Haining Asset Management's application to the Jinhua Intermediate People's Court of Zhejiang Province in August this year to write off China Youngman's debts due to the firm's inability to honor them was rejected.
Pang has been blacklisted for dishonesty more than 20 times. He came under fire recently for claiming to make water-powered trucks that could split water into hydrogen to power vehicles. This has yet to be verified.