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Oxford in final stages with potential buyer

General Motors customers have slowed their spending pace in 2005, but potential buyers are still taking Corydon’s Oxford Automotive for a test drive.
Oxford Automotive filed Dec. 7 for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and the Corydon plant is one of five U.S. plants to be sold as part of the company’s restructuring plan.
‘Oxford Automotive is still in business. However, we’re kind of on our second generation of potential buyers of the company, and we are currently in the final stages of due diligence,’ said Ken Abell, human resources manager at the Corydon plant.
Due diligence is the process during which the potential buyer examines and documents any outstanding issues that may be a liability.
‘The potential buyer wants to be held harmless for any issues they did not create,’ Abell said.
Though he did not release the name of the forerunner, Abell said, ‘It is a potential buyer that appears to have everything required from the standpoint of funding/management support to successfully buy the company.
‘(When) that entity has actually completed all of that process and their intent is determined to be serious, then obviously changes will probably occur, but to what extent, we would not be available to comment on that,’ he said.
The plant, characterized as a moneymaker, announced some layoffs ‘ a combination of between 40 and 60 hourly and salaried workers ‘ Monday, but has also hired as recently as last quarter.
At the end of 2004, about 406 hourly and 50 salaried employees made up the Corydon Oxford work force, Abell said.
‘For the start-up of the year, there has been a little bit of a slow-down on the customers’ part. (General Motors) are having some 2005 start-up issues that are affecting us,’ Abell said.
Oxford formerly supplied Ford and Nissan as well as GM, but only the latter remains as the others have gone elsewhere for production. Oxford has reduced its work force accordingly.
Still, the outlook remains positive, Abell said.
‘At this juncture, it’s a very high-percentage prospect that the plant will remain, and, furthermore, I would say it will remain as a General Motors supplier at this point,’ he said.