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Automaker Bugatti declared bankrupt

ROME, Sept. 23 -- The factory gates of Italian supercar producer Bugatti Automobili Spa were sealed Saturday, hours after the firm was declared bankrupt by a civil court in Modena, Italy. The court turned down a rescue plan put forward by a pair of companies based in Dublin and the Isle of Man Friday night under which each would have injected 50 billion lire ($31 million) into the specialty sportscar maker in hopes of keeping it alive.

The court said the resources of the FinFirst Group of Dublin and Franklin Enterprise, an Isle of Man-based finance group, were not sufficient to deal with an estimated Bugatti debt of 200 billion lire ($125 million). A bankruptcy trustee, Modena accountant Gianluigi Rossini, was appointed to wind up the company. Bugatti attorney Alberto Levoni urged him to keep the factory open and not to throw 140 employees out of work. The bankruptcy proceedings were delayed from July to September in hopes of finding a savior for the marque. Last-minute rescue offers were said to have come from firms including Lotus cars of Britain, unnamed Saudi investors, a UK-based Asian businessman and a self-styled Indian prince. Levoni said Saturday that FinFirst and Franklin remain open to further negotiations to take over the troubled company, which made cars that competed against famed Ferrari and Lamborghini marques. Bugatti Spa is controlled by Bugatti International, Luxembourg, which also includes former Formula One competitor Lotus in its industrial stable. Levoni said he hopes to obtain a revocation of the bankruptcy order so talks with potential company saviors can proceed.

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