ASC files for Chapter 11, finds buyer for roof systems, design businesses

By From Automotive News| May 05 2007
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ASC Inc., the sunroof maker founded by Heinz Prechter in 1965, has entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as part of a plan to sell itself. ASC filed the petition Wednesday, May 2, in U.S. Bankruptcy Court here.

ASC, which specialized in making sunroofs and low-volume specialty cars for the North American auto industry and evolved into a roof systems specialist, closed four plants last year and cut its work force from 1,250 people at the start of 2005 to 252. It began seeking a buyer in 2005.

The pending sale to Hancock Park Associates will retain ASC's sunroof and design units but liquidate nonproductive assets. Hancock Park, of Los Angeles, is a private equity firm founded in 1986 that focuses on small to mid-sized businesses in retail and manufacturing segments.

ASC, of suburban Detroit, is the second major auto supplier to file for bankruptcy this year. Eight suppliers filed for protection in 2006.

ASC failed to find a buyer for the four closed plants. In January, liquidators sold presses, paint lines, sanding stations, injection-molding machines and other equipment from three of the plants, according to Hilco Industrial LLC, an industrial equipment liquidator.

According to an affidavit filed in bankruptcy court by ASC CEO Paul Wilbur, ASC ran into trouble after 2001 when it invested nearly $250 million to make the Chevrolet SSR sports truck and three other specialty vehicles for General Motors.

ASC expected a $225 million boost in its annual revenue from the program, but GM in 2005 decreased SSR production, canceled it early and terminated the contract for the other three vehicles, Wilbur said.

At the same time, DaimlerChrysler AG halted production of its Dodge Viper car for a year - which used composite parts from ASC - because of problems with an engine.

Prechter died in July 2001. ASC was purchased in May 2002 by a private equity fund controlled by Questor Management Co. LLC. Questor was co-founded in 1995 by turnaround expert Jay Alix and Wall Street financier Dan Lufkin.

ASC has used both reaction injection molding and sheet molding compound to make automotive specialty parts, including fascias, spoilers and hoods.

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