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Michigan firm Cerion working to close $13 million deal for auto part supplier’s assets

A Michigan-based firm is working to close a $13 million purchase of Columbus Foundry and its parent company, Intermet Corp., a spokesman said Tuesday.

Plymouth, Mich.-based Cerion LLC, owned by Paris, Ky.-based Revstone Industries LLC, was the high bidder for Intermet, which has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy twice since 2004. The second time was in August 2008.
Cerion’s bid for Fort Worth, Texas-based Intermet, a die-cast and metal forging auto parts manufacturer, came in at $13 million, according to records filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. The purchase price, approved July 14 by bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross, includes Cerion’s assumption of $2 million in Intermet debt, primarily for utility payments and property taxes.


Columbus Foundry, 1600 Northside Industrial Blvd., is one of several manufacturing facilities owned by Intermet, which is being purchased for $13 million, which includes $2 million in debt.
Intermet's operation also includes plants in Decatur, Ill., Racine, Wis., Lynchburg, Va., and Radford, Va., Jackson, Tenn., New Hope, Minn., Hibbing, Minn., Monroe City, Mo., Palmyra, Mo., and Stevensville, Mich.
“The only comment that we really have is that Cerion is continuing to work on purchasing the assets that it won at auction. The deal has not closed,” Cerion spokesman Gordon Cole said Tuesday. He declined to elaborate on how long it might take for the acquisition to be completed.

Columbus Foundry is one of several manufacturing facilities owned by Intermet. Its operation includes plants in Decatur, Ill.; Racine, Wis.; Lynchburg, Va.; Radford, Va.; Jackson, Tenn.; New Hope, Minn.; Hibbing, Minn.; Monroe City, Mo.; Palmyra, Mo.; and Stevensville, Mich.

The 350,000-square-foot Columbus Foundry facility is located at 1600 Northside Industrial Blvd., just south of the Bradley Park Drive shopping area. It employed more than 1,100 people a decade ago.
The local factory forges ferrous metal into auto parts, with past customers including Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Ford, General Motors and Chrysler.

Auto part suppliers, however, have suffered as sales by the big brands hit the skids. Production cuts at the major assembly plants have rippled down to the supply companies, putting a number of them on the ropes financially.
Data submitted to the bankruptcy court show Intermet Corp. having $33.8 million in net income year-to-date as of June 30. It also breaks down net income at individual plants, with the Columbus Foundry posting a loss of $2.8 million so far this year.

In March, Intermet abandoned its retirement program with the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. taking over the plans and assets of 4,500 retired, former and current employees. That included nearly 600 people connected to Columbus Foundry — 66 full retirees, 252 former employees and 270 active workers.

Cerion, meanwhile, is a privately held company launched in late 2008 through the acquisition of a company called Metavation. It appears to be growing by gobbling up distressed manufacturing firms at fire-sale prices.
The Michigan firm, according to a report by the business Web site, crainsdetroit.com, is piecing together an operation that eventually might rack up $1 billion in annual sales. Aside from Intermet, Cerion and Revstone have bought up nearly two dozen auto parts manufacturers, according to crainsdetroit.com. The acquisitions include bankrupt suppliers Contech LLC and Precision Parts International Inc.

A news release from Livonia, Mich.-based P2R Associates says Cerion will focus on several sectors, including automotive, transportation, industrial, energy, consumer and medical.
The now-bankrupt Intermet was founded in 1846.

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