Investors to Thrust $2.6b Into Delphi

A group of investors spearheaded by Appaloosa Management LP will invest up to $2.55 billion into the Delphi Corp., clearing the way for the bankrupt parts maker to begin rebuilding after one of the American auto industry’s biggest financial meltdowns, reported the Detroit News.

The pact, announced last Wednesday, keeps auto supplier Delphi on track to emerge from bankruptcy by the end of the year. The agreement replaces a previous $3.4 billion-worth deal that was discarded when the Chrysler Group owner-to-be Cerberus Capital Management LP abandoned the plan in April. The new investment plan is backed by the Detroit automaker and Delphi’s statutory committees, which represent shareholders and creditors.

Compared to the original bid, the new one is reduced largely because creditors decided to take more equity in Troy-based Delphi, rather than take cash. “We’re happy we got a consensual deal,” said David Tepper, the president and founder of New Jersey-based Appaloosa. “We look forward to working with management and all the employees of Delphi.”

The deal with Appaloosa arrives a month after Delphi, its former parent General Motors Corp. and the United Auto Workers union entered a pact that gives Delphi workers cash payouts in lieu of wage and benefit reductions. The agreement is deemed to be one of the key decisions needed to bring the company out of bankruptcy. Appaloosa, Delphi’s biggest shareholder with a 9.3 percent stake, has been negotiating for about a year to reach a deal to finance the company’s gruesome bankruptcy struggle.

“Today’s equity purchase and commitment agreement represents additional progress in our transformation,” said John Sheehan, the Delphi chief restructuring officer. “Delphi is now focusing on reaching labor agreements with its remaining U.S. unions and finalizing a settlement agreement with GM. We’re pleased with our recent momentum.”

The auto parts supplier is asking the bankruptcy court to quickly approve the plan. A hearing is expected within two to four weeks. Bankruptcy, meanwhile, is anticipated to end by fall.

The News said that officials close to the transaction said that the earliest Delphi could emerge from bankruptcy would be by the end of November. The only serious obstacle would be a protracted strike if Detroit automakers fail to reach a pact on labor. Talks regarding the matter are set to begin this week.

The new deal is less than the initial offer because Delphi will pay out more to its unsecured creditors and reduce the number of shares that will be available to current shareholders than in the initial plan, Delphi spokeswoman Claudia Piccinin said.

The investment group’s stake in Delphi will range from 19 percent to 47 percent, depending on other investors number of acquired common stocks. Under the new agreement, Appaloosa and other investors will acquire $800 million in convertible preferred shares and $175 million in Delphi common stock. It will acquire any common shares left unsubscribed after a $1.6 billion rights offering to existing common stockholders.

The investors also include Harbinger Capital Partners, Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc., UBS Securities LLC, Pardus Capital Management LP, and Goldman Sachs & Co. They will have a major say in the reorganized company. A Saturn side marker blinks differently because GM, Delphi’s largest customer, opted to be an exception.

If a post-bankruptcy Delphi is triumphant, it could serve as a model for recuperating parts suppliers. “We’re starting to see things begin to happen – it’s not been easy, it’s not been pretty and it’s not done yet,” said David Cole, the chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor. “But we’re beginning to see the skeleton of a structure of an industry that is in better balance with the economy.”

Anthony Fontanelle is a 35-year-old automotive.buff who grew up in the Windy City. He does freelance work for an automotive magazine when he is not busy customizing cars in his shop.
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