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The Deal: ECOtality Enlists Help for Restructuring

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - Despite raising more than $8 million in June, ECOtality Inc. may be on the road to bankruptcy court after losing its funding from the Department of Energy and experiencing issues with its products.

The San Francisco-based provider of clean electric transportation technologies warned that it is currently exploring its options for a restructuring or the sale of its company after being unable to obtain financing to fund its continued operations.

According to an Aug. 12 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, ECOtality has hired FTI Consulting as its restructuring adviser. FTI Consulting declined to comment. ECOtality, which builds electric vehicle charging stations, may also be facing a bankruptcy petition "in the very near future," it said in the SEC filing.

ECOtality raised $8.2 million through the private placement of common stock and warrants to certain unidentified institutional investors on June 19. The company sold more than 5.12 million shares of its common stock at $1.60 per share to investors, who also received a five-year warrant exercisable at $2.04 per share.

ECOtality's shares, however, which trade on the Nasdaq Capital Market under the symbol ECTY, have since declined to 30 cents on Monday and 23 cents on Tuesday, from $1.64 on Aug. 9. The stock closed at 24 cents on Wednesday. The stock has been trading under $2 since June 13.

After the stock sale, ECOtality was looking to raise additional financing to supplement its cash flows from operations. ECOtality discovered on Aug. 8, however, that financing it was pursuing from an "existing investor would not be forthcoming," SEC filings said.

ECOtality warned of its possible bankruptcy filing after several events hamstrung its ability to meet its ongoing obligations and fund anticipated operating losses.

For one thing, the DOE pulled the plug on ECOtality's electric vehicle project funding. Upon learning that the company may not be able to fulfill its obligations under the project, the DOE suspended all payments under the project while it "investigates the situation and determines whether the award should continue," SEC filings said.

According to DOE spokesman Niketa Kumar, "the Energy Department's grant to Ecotality was used for the installation and data collection of charging stations in cities across America where sales of plug-in electric cars are on the rise. Meant to establish the seeds of infrastructure needed to support a growing market for advanced vehicles, the company installed more than 12,500 charging stations in 18 US cities -- or approximately 97% of their goal."

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