Lear To Buy N.C. Fabrics Firm

SOUTHFIELD — The Southfield automotive seating and electrical power management firm Lear Corp. Wednesday announced the acquisition of Guilford Mills, a privately held automotive and specialty fabrics maker in Wilmington, N.C.

The seller is the private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, L.P.

Financial terms were not immediately disclosed. Lear said it anticipates closing on the deal by June 30.

Guilford has been a supplier of fabrics to automotive and specialty markets for more than 40 years and has expertise in fabric design, development, warping, knitting, dyeing, finishing and lamination.

“The acquisition of Guilford is another step in Lear’s strategy to strengthen our core businesses by expanding our component capabilities,” said Matt Simoncini, Lear’s president and CEO. “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. By acquiring Guilford, we will enhance the value and quality that we are able to provide to our customers and increase opportunities for future business growth.”

Guilford has annual sales of approximately $400 million, with 85 percent from automotive applications. Guilford’s Automotive Division produces fabrics for a number of automotive interior applications, including seat fabric. Guilford has strong relationships with virtually all of the major global automakers, including BMW, Chrysler, Ford, GM, Honda, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen.

Guilford’s Specialty Products Division produces high-technology fabrics for diverse end markets including water filtration, window covering, performance apparel, medical and other industrial applications.

Said Guilford president Chad Brooks: “This transaction marks a significant positive development in Guilford’s history.  Lear’s global scale and strong market position will provide additional opportunities to increase our business globally.  We look forward to joining Lear and working together to further develop and grow our global fabric capabilities.”

Guilford employs approximately 1,600 people and has offices in the United States, Mexico, Europe and Asia including four manufacturing facilities in the United States and Europe. Further information about Guilford is available on the internet at www.guilfordtextiles.com.

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