Canterbury bus maker Designline International has been placed in liquidation, putting hundreds of jobs at risk.

The High Court at Christchurch today appointed the Official Assignee as liquidator after applications by two creditors owed more than $1.8 million between them, The Press reported.

Justice Venning said Designline was clearly insolvent. While it was paying current debts it was not paying past obligations.

The court declined an appeal to adjourn the decision for two weeks while a possible sale to Malaysian interests was negotiated. It was told 500 employees were at stake and Designline's debt could be as high as $10 million.

Designline was founded in Ashburton in 1986. It was bought in 2006 by the Glosson family of North Carolina who embarked on a large expansion setting up a factory capable of building 300 buses a year in Charlotte, North Carolina and shifting Designline to a new base at Rolleston, 20km south of Christchurch.