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Published: Saturday, 8/23/2008

Maumee stamping plant deal looks closer

BY GARY T. PAKULSKI
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

A group working to revive a former auto parts stamping plant in Maumee expects to choose in the next few weeks between a pair of private investment groups seeking to finance the project, a representative said yesterday.

"We will probably be making some announcement in the next three weeks about which group will be selected," James Tuschman, a lawyer for Maumee Authority Stamping Inc., said.

Under either proposal, employees would own a stake of the company.

While the company wouldn't be operated under a formal Employee Stock Ownership Plan, as originally anticipated, an employee stock plan is key to the proposal, Mr. Tuschman said. Each employee will kick in at least $16,000 for the purchase of stock.

A group led by Keith Obey has worked for a year to reopen the former Ford Motor Co. stamping plant. Mr. Obey is a former executive of the Ford plant.

Neither investment group has been identified.

Under one proposal, an investment group would spend $14 million to buy the shuttered factory and its equipment. The group then would lease the facility to Maumee Authority. Those investors would receive 20 percent of company stock.

If that group is chosen, 55 percent of stock would be held by employees. Operating funds - or working capital - would come from a small group of wealthy local people who have agreed to make a $3 million investment in exchange for a 24 percent stake in the company, Mr. Tuschman said. They are represented by Sandru Financial Group in Perrysburg. To supplement working capital, the Lucas County commissioners have been asked to make a $1.5 million loan to the venture.

Money raised from employees would be used later to re-buy plant machinery from the investors.

Under the rival proposal, the other investment group would buy the factory and its machinery and provide working capital for a total investment of $18 million.

That group would own at least 70 percent of company stock, with employees holding up to 30 percent, Mr. Tuschman said.

Under that proposal, Maumee Stamping would use the funds it is seeking to borrow from Lucas County to repurchase stock from the investor.

Other possible sources of funding being eyed by Maumee Authority include a $5 million loan from the state of Ohio and a $3 million loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration arranged by the Toledo Lucas County Port Authority.

Contact Gary Pakulski at:

gpakulski@theblade.com

or 419-724-6082.



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