12/27/04 — Cooper-Standard sale completed

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Cooper-Standard sale completed

By Sam Atkins
Published in News on December 27, 2004 1:57 PM

Cooper Tire & Rubber Company announced Thursday that it has completed the sale of its automotive business, Cooper-Standard Automotive, to an entity formed by The Cypress Group and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners for approximately $1.165 billion in cash, subject to certain post-closing adjustments.

There are two Cooper-Standard Automotive plants in Wayne County -- a 167,000-square-foot plant on Fedelon Trail and a 207,000-square-foot plant on Woodland Church Road.

The plant on Fedelon Trail was established in 1984 as a Standard Products plant, and in 1999, Cooper Tire and Rubber Co. combined with it to form Cooper-Standard Automotive.

It was named Wayne County's "Industry of the Year" in 2003 and has grown to employ over 800 full-time employees.

Around 270 employees were hired in a five-month period last year after it invested over $5 million to upgrade equipment. It gained two new contracts last year, the 2004 Ford F-150 pickup truck and the 2004 Chevrolet Colorado pickup.

The plant on Fedelon Trail conducts all of the extrusion, or primary, processes for the company and some secondary operations. It manufactures rubber seals for car doors and windows and ships the seals to Ford plants in Norfolk, Va.; Kansas City, Mo., and Dearborn, Mich.

Combined it supplies seals for all the Ford F-150 pickup trucks manufactured, or about 800,000 vehicles a year. The Woodland Church Road plant, which was established in 1997, has secondary operations only.

The sale included the 47 manufacturing facilities and operations of Cooper-Standard Automotive, according to a Cooper Tire press release.

"We are very pleased to conclude this transaction with Cypress and Goldman," said Thomas A. Dattilo, chairman, president, and chief executive officer of Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.

"The sale will allow us to focus more fully on our core business and will provide the flexibility and capital necessary to grow the tire business to its full global potential. We look forward to pursuing growth opportunities in North America as well as in key strategic markets around the world."

Roger S. Hendriksen at the company's corporate headquarters could not be reached for comment but said in September the buyer will make all decisions regarding what to do with the business and what will happen to all of its plants and employees.

The company reiterated that the proceeds from the sale will be used for debt reduction, the repurchase of shares, investment in its tire operations or a combination thereof. In addition, the company announced that it intends to allocate approximately $60 million of the proceeds to fund various pension plans related to continuing operations. No further specific allocation for the use of proceeds was provided. As previously announced, $30 million of the purchase price will be held by the buyer until the post-closing working capital adjustments can be finalized, the release states.

Lazard Freres & Co. LLC served as financial advisor to Cooper Tire & Rubber Company for this transaction.

Cooper Tire & Rubber Company, headquartered in Findlay, Ohio, specializes in the manufacture and marketing of replacement tires for the global automotive industry. Products include automotive, motorcycle and truck tires as well as tread rubber and equipment for the commercial retread industry