GST AutoLeather, Inc. Files to Reorganize Under Chapter 11

  • Company’s existing Senior Lenders to provide $40 million Debtor-in-Possession financing
  • Foreign operations are not included in Chapter 11 filing and will continue normal operations

SOUTHFIELD, Mich., Oct. 03, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — GST AutoLeather, Inc. (“GST” or the “Company”) announced today that it has filed a voluntary petition for relief under chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.  The Company has obtained a commitment from its senior secured lenders for a $40 million debtor-in-possession facility, the proceeds of which will be used to fund ongoing business operations.  This facility will allow GST to continue business as usual during the reorganization process, while pursuing a court-supervised going concern sale, commonly referred to as a “363 Sale”.

Chief Executive Officer Dennis Hiller said, “After working with our advisors to review a range of strategic alternatives, the proposed strategy represents the best solution to ensure continuity of supply to our customers, maximize value for all stakeholders and position the Company for long-term success.” Mr. Hiller went on to say, “I would especially like to thank our customers, suppliers, employees and Senior Lenders for supporting us through this time as we work to improve our capital structure and enhance value.”

The Company and its Senior Lenders are negotiating the terms of an acquisition of the Company by its Senior Lenders.  This would serve as a backstop in the “363 Sale” and will pave the path for the Company to exit chapter 11 and maintain the business as a going concern.

The Company has set up a toll-free hotline to answer questions about this process. The hotline can be accessed by calling 844-308-4104 (International – 503-520-4435). Additional information and FAQ’s can be found at http://dm.epiq11.com/GST

GST is utilizing Lazard Middle Market LLC and Alvarez & Marsal North America, LLC as its financial advisors and Kirkland & Ellis LLP as its legal advisor to assist the Board of Directors and senior management with the restructuring process.  The Senior Lenders have retained FTI Consulting, Inc. as their financial advisor and Paul Hastings LLP as their legal advisor.

About GST AutoLeather, Inc.

Headquartered in Southfield, Michigan, GST was founded in 1933, then known as Garden State Tanning, initially operated as a tanning company that processed leather for the upholstery and garment industries.  The Company entered the automotive industry in 1946.  As leather upholstery became the go-to for furniture, airplanes, and automobiles, the Company shifted its focus 100% to automotive leather manufacturing.

The Company began expanding internationally throughout the 1990s, taking advantage of the significant consolidation in the automotive supplier industry.  Specifically, the Company opened a leather sourcing team in South America, opened a state-of-the-art cutting facility in Saltillo, Mexico.  The Company’s expansion strategy continued throughout the 2000s, when the Company transitioned operations from the United States to Mexico and opened additional facilities in Shanghai and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.

In January 2011, the Company acquired Seton Company, a major supplier of upholstery leather, cementing its place as one of the largest automotive leather manufacturers in the world.  Through the acquisition, the Company acquired Seton’s operations in North America, China, South Korea, Europe, and South Africa.  In the North American, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean markets, the Company continued to market their products as the GST brand.  In the European and South African markets, products are marketed under the name Seton AutoLeather, a GST AutoLeather Company.

Contacts:

Jennifer Mercer, SVP of Strategic Communications, Epiq Systems, Inc.
Telephone: (310) 712-6215
jmercer@epiqsystems.com
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