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Lear To Acquire Guilford Performance Textiles

Lear Corp., Southfield, Mich., has agreed to acquire Guilford Performance Textiles, Wilmington, N.C., from Cerberus Capital Management LP, New York City.

Guilford's history dates from 1946, when its operation comprised two knitting machines and six employees. Over time, the company added dyeing, finishing and laminating operations as well as fabric design and development capabilities, and its product range grew to include furniture upholstery, automotive and specialty fabrics. Guilford was acquired in 2005 by Cerberus and has since restructured its operation, expanded globally, and introduced new products.

Today, the company operates two manufacturing facilities in the United States and two in Europe and participates in a joint venture in China; has sales offices in the United States, Mexico, Europe and Asia; employs approximately 1,600 workers — of whom some 60 to 65 percent are employed in the United States; and reports annual sales totaling some $400 million. About 85 percent of production is dedicated to automotive fabrics that are sold to major global automobile manufacturers; and 15 percent, to high-tech applications including filtration, performance apparel, window covering, medical and other industrial applications.

Lear was established in 1917 under the name American Metal Products as a manufacturer of assemblies for automotive and aircraft applications. Today, it is a Fortune 500 company that has some 98,000 employees working in more than 200 locations in 35 countries, and reported 2010 sales totaling $12 billion.

"This transaction marks a significant positive development in Guilford's history," said Chad Brooks, president, Guilford Performance Textiles. "Lear's global scale and strong market position will provide additional opportunities to increase our business globally."

"This acquisition adds global fabric design and development resources, as well as technical expertise to our existing seat trim capabilities in emerging markets and fabric production in Asia," said Matt Simoncini, president and CEO, Lear Corp. Lear also has a small operation in Asia that produces automotive seating fabric.

May/June 2012