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SRS new Empire stalking horse bidder

Keywords: Tags  Empire Die Casting, Robert Hopkins, Brouse McDowell, Marc Merklin, bankruptcy, auction, WARN, SRS International Holdings Whitehall Industries


CHICAGO — SRS International Holdings Inc. has offered to buy bankrupt aluminum and zinc die cast parts maker Empire Die Casting Co. for $10.75 million.

Ludington, Mich.-based SRS and Macedonia, Ohio-based Empire agreed to an asset purchase deal Nov. 18, according to documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Ohio signed by Empire president Robert A. Hopkins and SRS president and chief executive officer Yogen Rahangdale.

Rahangdale also is president and chief executive officer of aluminum extruder Whitehall Industries Inc., also based in Ludington, and former president and chief operating officer of Detroit auto parts supplier American Axle Manufacturing Inc., one of North America’s largest consumers of special bar quality steel.

SRS is the new stalking horse bidder for Empire, according to court documents, replacing New Growth Capital LLC, Cleveland, which had offered $11.7 million (amm.com, Oct. 22). But Empire and New Growth Capital couldn’t reach a mutually agreeable asset purchase deal, said Marc Merklin, managing partner at law firm Brouse McDowell, which is representing Empire in its bankruptcy proceedings.

New Growth Capital didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Bids for Empire are due by Dec. 16, with an auction set for Dec. 18 and a sales hearing for Dec. 19. The deal between Empire and SRS must be concluded by Dec. 31.

Meanwhile, Empire has issued a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act notice, due to take effect Dec. 31, for 211 employees at its Macedonia facility. A potential buyer aims to run the company as a going concern, the company said in an Oct. 28 letter to the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, and "the new owner may offer employment to some or all of Empire ... employees, but that is entirely outside of the company’s control."

The WARN notice was largely a formality, Merklin said. "If the purchase goes through, Empire will be terminating everybody and they will then be hired by the buyers," he said. "It is absolutely not reflective of any intent to terminate anybody."

Empire Die Casting filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Oct. 16 (amm.com, Oct. 17).


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