740 Jobs Saved As Liberty Acquires British Automotive Supplier
Leading law firm Irwin Mitchell has advised on a deal which has seen vehicle pressings and assemblies manufacturer, CovPress, being acquired by fast-growing industrial group, Liberty House.
CovPress, a professional metal stamping and robotic assembly specialist, is a Tier 1 supplier to, among others, Jaguar Land Rover, Renault and GM and Landis+Gyr.
Eddie Williams, David Dunckley and Richard Lewis, of Grant Thornton UK LLP, were appointed as administrators of CovPress in September 2016 and have concluded a deal which has secured the jobs of 740 skilled workers at the firm’s plant in Coventry.
The Birmingham office of Irwin Mitchell advised the administrators on the deal, with Restructuring & Insolvency partner Stephen George, supported by Associate Amy Keogh, and colleagues from the firm’s Pensions, Employment and Real Estate teams.
From a pensions point of view, the deal is significant as it is believed to be the first time a scheme had been rescued from the Pension Protection Fund (PPF). If the rescue had not happened, pension rights as well as jobs would have suffered as the scheme would have gone into the PPF and the full value of pension benefits would not be protected.
In addition, Irwin Mitchell’s Banking & Finance team, headed up by Jon Bew and Natalie Barnes advised both ABN AMRO Commercial Finance and ABN AMRO Lease, who provided funding for the acquisition to Liberty, and will also provide working capital to the on-going business by way of receivables and equipment lease facilities. ABN AMRO is a key player in providing leasing, HP and asset based solutions across Europe with presence in the UK, the Netherlands, France and Germany.
Liberty Industries Group, part of Liberty House Group, already has 17 engineering businesses and regards the CovPress acquisition as a strong strategic fit with its established and rapidly-expanding presence in the automotive supply chain.
The business, which will be renamed Liberty Pressing Solutions, has existed on the Canley site in Coventry for 120 years. It has benefited from major investment in the latest plant and machinery since being acquired by the previous owners in 2013, and its engineers have established a strong reputation for devising innovative design solutions for customers. This acquisition complements Liberty’s existing automotive pressed components facility in the West Midlands which also forms part of the new enlarged Liberty Pressing Solutions division.
Douglas Dawson, chief executive of Liberty Industries Group, said: “We are very familiar with the high quality of the operation at Covpress and the skills and equipment in the business. As such we are extremely pleased they are becoming part of the Liberty Industries Group.”
“We have drawn up a detailed plan to ensure the future sustainability and profitability of the business. That will include ongoing capital investment, strengthened financial management and the benefits that will come from joint purchasing and marketing with our other operations in the UK,” he added.
Joint administrator, Eddie Williams of Grant Thornton, said: “CovPress is a fundamentally strong business. After an extensive sale process, I am delighted to have concluded a sale which provides the workforce with some good news in early 2017. I would like to thank the workforce, the customers and the suppliers for their significant support over the last few months since my appointment.”
Pierre Vinci, Head of UK Corporate and International at ABN AMRO Commercial Finance, said: “We are very glad that Covpress has found a strong buyer in Liberty House Group. Their growing presence in the UK industrial sector is undeniable and we are looking forward to further develop the relationship. This transaction demonstrates the continuous commitment from ABN AMRO Commercial Finance to the UK market."