DETROIT (Reuters) - U.S. auto parts makers Visteon Corp VSTN.PK and Metaldyne Corp filed for bankruptcy on Thursday, becoming the latest casualties of the global auto industry crisis and adding to the pressure on cash-strapped automakers.
Visteon, the former parts unit of Ford Motor Co (F.N), said the No. 2 U.S. automaker had made a commitment to support bankruptcy financing for its restructuring efforts to ensure continued supply of parts.
The filing comes at a time when Ford, the only U.S. automaker operating without emergency government loans, is struggling to survive the worst auto sales in nearly three decades which has sent Chrysler into bankruptcy and pushed General Motors Corp (GM.N) to the brink of failure.
GM had moved closer to filing the largest-ever bankruptcy for a U.S. industrial company, but GM and the U.S. Treasury had made a new offer for a crucial debt exchange that is backed by a committee for bondholders.
Ford, still Visteon’s biggest customer and which accounted for about 31 percent of its $1.35 billion of sales last quarter, did not detail the size of its bankruptcy financing for Visteon. Ford spun off Visteon in 2000.
“We have committed to support debtor-in-possession financing, but we anticipate others will also be involved,” Ford spokesman Todd Nissen said.
Kirk Ludtke, senior vice president at CRT Capital Group, said depending on the size, the bankruptcy financing may not have a significant impact on Ford’s liquidity.
“But Visteon is not the only troubled supplier. This could well start to add up,” Ludtke said.
Earlier this month, Ford assumed a $163 million secured revolving credit facility from Visteon’s lenders.
The health of the U.S. auto parts supply base has been a priority for Ford with Chrysler in bankruptcy and GM close to a government-imposed deadline of June 1 to restructure or follow Chrysler down that road.
“Ford’s top priority is to ensure we have sufficient parts and material to protect our production,” Ford global purchasing chief Tony Brown said in a statement.
“Ford has no intention of changing our fundamental business relationship with Visteon, including not buying back businesses or manufacturing operations,” Brown said, adding that Ford had not experienced any production issues as a result of Visteon’s business issues.
A disorderly failure of large suppliers would be costly to all major automakers manufacturing in North America, including Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) and Honda Motor Co (7267.T), due to the interlocking chain of the U.S. supply base.
Both Visteon and Metaldyne Corp, a unit of Japan’s Asahi Tec 5606.T, said the bankruptcy filings do not include their non-U.S. entities or operations.
Visteon, which filed for court protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, said it would continue its operations throughout the reorganization process.
The first bankruptcy hearing is expected to take place on Friday in Delaware. Visteon will be seeking approval of regular motions to continue operations during the reorganization.
Visteon listed total assets of $4.58 billion and total debts of $5.32 billion. Its unsecured creditors include a unit of Bank of New York Mellon Corp (BK.N) holding bond debt, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp and IBM (IBM.N).
Metaldyne, a supplier of metal-based auto components, said it would sell a majority of its assets as going concerns under a court-supervised process.
Plymouth, Michigan-based Metaldyne filed for Chapter 11 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.
RHJ International SA RHJI.BR, which owns a 60 percent stake in Asahi Tec, and private equity firm Carlyle Group CYL.UL separately submitted letters of intent to purchase different portions of Metaldyne assets, Metaldyne said.
Metaldyne said Asahi Tec will not continue its economic support for the company. RHJ said it would buy a majority of Metaldyne’s assets.
Carlyle has proposed a purchase of certain of Metaldyne’s Chassis business assets in the United States, Mexico and Spain, Metaldyne said.
In re Visteon, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware, No. 09-11786.
Additional reporting by Caroline Humer and Paritosh Bansal in New York and Ajay Kamalakaran in Bangalore; Editing by Erica Billingham and Matthew Lewis