Analysts: Dura’s plan faces hurdles

A restructuring program an-nounced last month by Dura Automotive Systems will be challenging to achieve, automotive analysts say.

“It’s more comprehensive than many people thought or might have imagined,” said Martin King, credit analyst for Standard & Poor. “They are trying to shift their manufacturing footprint in such a meaningful way in a pretty compact time frame and in a difficult operating environment.”

The US-based driver controls specialist aims to restructure its global operations by the end of 2007. The plan calls for the possible closure of five to 10 plants and the relocation of about 2,000 jobs.

Standard & Poor said Dura is among a group of suppliers with the most exposure to Ford Motor Co. and General Motors.

Dura employs 17,000 people at 60 plants and technical centers in 13 countries.

“This restructuring plan is the largest initiative Dura has ever taken on,” Dura CEO Larry Denton said in a February 9 conference call with analysts.

The company hasn’t said which plants would close. Dura makes parking brakes, gear shifts, structural door modules and engineered assemblies.

Denton said the plan will affect more than half the company’s worldwide operations, either through product movement or plant closings.

Plants in Mexico and eastern Europe will be expanded, he said.

Dura may sell manufacturing operations in Lage, Lippstadt and Rotenburg, Germany.

Products manufactured at the German plants include high-tolerance stampings, fine blanking, cold forming and tube forming.

Dura has hired investment banking firm W.Y. Campbell & Co. to solicit bids for the German plants.

“We feel it is important that we take the necessary steps today,” Denton said in a statement e-mailed to Crain’s Detroit Business, which, like Automotive News Europe, is published by Crain Communications.

“Dura has demonstrated that we have the capability to execute this type of plan ... You can either ride the curve or direct your efforts on getting ahead. Our plan is designed to position Dura ahead of the curve.”

– Rick Miller contributed

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