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Meridian sells composite sites to Magna’s Decoma

Decoma’s composites unit has acquired Meridian Automotive Systems Inc.’s (Allen Park, MI) composites facilities in Lenoir, Newton, and Salisbury, NC; and Celaya, Hermosillo, and Saltillo, Mexico. Decoma Composites LLC, part of Decoma International Corp., has also assumed the lease of Meridian’s sheet molding compound (SMC) facility in Grabill, IN from Meridian. Terms for the deal, which concluded June 1, were not disclosed.

’s (Allen Park, MI) composites facilities in Lenoir, Newton, and Salisbury, NC; and Celaya, Hermosillo, and Saltillo, Mexico. Decoma Composites LLC, part of Decoma International Corp., has also assumed the lease of Meridian’s sheet molding compound (SMC) facility in Grabill, IN from Meridian. Terms for the deal, which concluded June 1, were not disclosed. Meridian president and CEO Richard Newsted said in a release that the sale of the businesses, which were focused on the heavy truck and non-automotive markets, was a necessary action to improve the company’s liquidity in the midst of a “severely depressed North American economic and automotive environment.”

Created through three debt-financed acquisitions in 1997, 1999, and 2000, Meridian’s financial struggles go back several years. On April 26, 2005 Meridian declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy, confirming a reorganization plan with the bankruptcy court on Dec. 6, 2006 and officially emerging from bankruptcy on Dec. 29. The company was created by Windward Capital Partners L.P. starting with the April 1997 purchase of American Bumper & Manufacturing Co. (Ionia, MI). In May 1999, injection molder Lescoa Inc. (Grand Rapids, MI) was acquired, and the combined company was called Meridian Automotive Systems. In 2000, Meridian acquired Cambridge Industries.

The new company supplied front and rear end modules, exterior thermoplastics, composites, and lighting systems to automobile and truck manufacturers, with a recent effort to win business in consumer and industrial markets. After the sale of the seven sites to Decoma, Meridian now has 12 facilities in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, with its lone remaining Mexican operation in the state of Coahuila at Muzquiz.

In May 2007, Meridian announced it would expand into sales of SMC to thermoset composite molders, utilizing its SMC compounding facility in Grabill, IN. That site, which was built in 2003, was part of Meridian’s effort to broaden its focus from the transportation market into new sectors like consumer and industrial.

In February of this year, Meridian announced it would add SMC capabilities in Mexico at its recently constructed facility in Saltillo, Coahuila. The company said the 75 million lb of capacity would support heavy truck, consumer, industrial products, and OEM customers in that country.

An operating unit of Magna International, Decoma supplies interior and exterior vehicle systems to the global automotive industry. In February, Decoma acquired Cadence Innovation s.r.o., the European subsidiary of Cadence Innovation (Troy, MI). The deal included three production sites in the Czech Republic and a joint-venture facility in Hungary. [email protected]

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