GST AutoLeather Receives Court Approval Of Sale

  • New entity formed by the Company’s Senior Secured Lenders to own and operate the business upon completion of the sale
  • All foreign and domestic entities to continue normal operations

SOUTHFIELD, Mich., Feb. 14, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — GST AutoLeather, Inc. (“GST” or the “Company”), a leading developer and manufacturer of automotive leather, announced today that it has obtained the approval of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware for the sale of substantially all of the assets of the Company and its foreign subsidiaries to GST Lender Acquisition Corp., an entity formed by the Company’s Senior Secured Lenders and majority controlled by Black Diamond Capital Management, L.L.C.

The Court’s approval followed an auction completed on January 13, 2018 where GST Lender Acquisition Corp. was the successful bidder with a winning bid of $166.9 million.  The Company anticipates that the sale will be completed in the next 60 days, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals.

“We are pleased to have received the Courts’ approval of the sale of GST’s business to our Senior Lenders who know our business extremely well.  We firmly believe that this represents the best path forward for our customers, suppliers and employees,” said Dennis Hiller, Chief Executive Officer of GST AutoLeather, Inc. “We look forward to completing the sale and we remain focused on continuing to deliver our high-quality products to our customers.”

Les Meier, a Principal at Black Diamond, commented on the restructuring transaction:  “We look forward to consummating the sale, which will significantly improve GST’s balance sheet, and working with management to enhance the Company’s global performance in order to exceed customers’ expectations.  We believe in the long-term potential of GST and are committed to supporting the Company’s strategy for global growth and dependable service and quality.”

The Company plans for operations to continue uninterrupted in the ordinary course of business and that day-to-day obligations to its customers, suppliers and employees will continue to be met through closing of the sale.

GST has been 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.

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 Zhongshan, China and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.

In 2008, GST and Advantage Partners, LLP, an Asia-based private equity firm (“Advantage Partners”), entered into an agreement whereby Advantage Partners acquired 100 percent of GST from its previous owner, SILLC Holdings, LLC, for $300 million.  This acquisition bolstered the Company’s market expansion strategies, specifically its pursuit of capturing the growing Chinese automotive market.

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.

About Black Diamond Capital Management

Black Diamond Capital Management, L.L.C. is a privately held alternative asset management firm specializing in credit-focused investment strategies.  The firm was founded in 1995 and manages over $8 billion in assets across four complementary investment platforms.

Contacts:

Kate Mailloux, Senior Director, Epiq
Telephone: (646) 282-2532
kmailloux@epiqglobal.com
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