Republicans assail Waltham battery maker’s deal with China

A Chinese company’s preliminary agreement to invest in A123 Systems Inc. has ignited concerns that China could take control of the struggling Waltham battery maker’s advanced technology and spurred new criticisms by Republicans that the Obama administration squandered billions in stimulus money with investments in risky firms.

A123, which has warned investors that it is running out of cash, won a $249.1 million federal matching grant in 2009 to expand its facilities as part of the administration’s efforts to revive the economy and boost the nation’s clean energy sector. Under a tentative deal announced Wednesday, Chinese conglomerate Wanxiang Group agreed to invest up to $450 million in A123 and could eventually gain control of 80 percent of the company’s stock.

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