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Martinrea Set to Acquire German Foundry Group

May 12, 2011
Tier 1 automotive supplier would gain engine block caster Honsel in bankruptcy sale
Martinrea International Inc., a Toronto-based Tier 1 automotive manufacturer, is in partnership with a private equity group to buy the assets of Honsel AG in a bankruptcy sale. Honsel is a German foundry group with plants in Brazil, France, Mexico, and Spain. It produces aluminum sand and permanent mold castings, and aluminum and magnesium diecastings. Martinrea produces metal components, assemblies and modules, and fluid-management systems at 31 operations in Canada, the U.S., Mexico, and Europe. Martinrea has offered a reported $159 million for Honsel, together with Anchorage Capital Partners Ltd. Prior to Honsel’s insolvency declaration last October, Anchorage had acquired a large volume of Honsel's debt. Martinrea and Anchorage were chosen by the German bankruptcy court to submit a purchase agreement for Honsel. According to Martinrea’s statement a conclusive agreement is expected soon. Earlier reports suggested Honsel’s rival, Nemak, and one of its largest customers, ZF Friedrischshafen, had hoped to win the court’s nod to submit the purchase agreement. After Honsel emerges from bankruptcy, Martinrea plans to own 55% of the company and manage the operations, with Anchorage holding 45%. Honsel has a reported 3,800 employees and produces four major product lines: engine blocks, cylinder heads and oil pans; transmission products (housings and control parts); suspension products (e.g., engine cradles); and body parts (front boards and extrusion profiles.) Its main foundry is at Meschede, Germany, where it produces high-pressure diecastings, permanent mold and sand castings, and machined cast parts. The plant also has rolling and machining capabilities. Other plants in Germany include a high-pressure diecasting and machining operation at Nuremburg, an extrusion plant at Soest, and a diemaking shop at Nuttlar. During a financial restructuring in 2009, Belgian investment group RHJ International (a unit of private equity group Ripplewood Holdings) invested an estimated $70 million in the Honsel Group, in exchange for a 51% stake holding, while the remaining 49% remained held by Honsel's senior term lenders.