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Lear To Acquire Guilford Performance Textiles

Lear Corp. — a Southfield, Mich.-based supplier of automotive seating and electrical power management systems — has signed an agreement to acquire Guilford Performance Textiles — a Wilmington, N.C.-based manufacturer of automotive and specialty textiles — from New York City-based private investment company Cerberus Capital Management LP for an undisclosed price.

Guilford's history dates from 1946, when its operation comprised two knitting machines and six employees. Over the years, the company added dyeing, finishing and laminating operations in addition to fabric design and development capabilities, and its product range grew to include furniture upholstery, automotive and specialty fabrics. Guilford was acquired in 2005 by Cerberus and has in the years since then restructured its operation, expanded globally, and introduced new products. Today, the company operates four manufacturing facilities - two in the United States and two in Europe - and participates in a joint venture in China; has sales offices in the United States, Mexico, Europe and Asia; employs approximately 1,600 workers - of whom some 60 to 65 percent are employed in the United States; and reports annual sales totaling some $400 million. Currently, about 85 percent of production is dedicated to automotive fabrics that are sold to major global automobile manufacturers; and 15 percent to high-tech applications including filtration, performance apparel, window covering, medical and other industrial applications.

Lear, established in 1917 under the name American Metal Products as a manufacturer of assemblies for automotive and aircraft applications, today is a Fortune 500 company that has approximately 98,000 employees working in more than 200 locations in 35 countries, and reported 2010 sales totaling $12 billion.

"This transaction marks a significant positive development in Guilford's history," said Chad Brooks, president, Guilford Performance Textiles. "Lear's global scale and strong market position will provide additional opportunities to increase our business globally. We look forward to joining Lear and working together to further develop and grow our global fabric capabilities."

"This acquisition adds global fabric design and development resources, as well as technical expertise to our existing seat trim capabilities in emerging markets and fabric production in Asia," said Matt Simoncini, president and CEO, Lear Corp. Lear also has a small operation in Asia that produces automotive seating fabric.

April 17, 2012