Dura Automotive sold; Kimberly Rodriguez named CEO

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DETROIT — After emerging from bankruptcy in late May, longtime supplier Dura Automotive once again has new owners.

Lexington, Ky.-based private equity firm MiddleGround Capital acquired a majority stake in the body systems supplier from Bardin Hill Investment Partners.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but according to MiddleGround’s website, the firm’s investments range from $75 million to $250 million. According to a press release, two of Middleground’s partners are Toyota Motor Corp. veterans.

“We have been searching for an opportunity to invest in a business as well-positioned as Dura to capitalize on the most disruptive trends in the automotive industry,” partner John Stewart said in a statement. Stewart spent 18 years at Toyota. “From today’s focus on electrification of the powertrain and vehicle lightweighting to some of the longer-term shifts toward autonomous driving and connected car, Dura is and will continue to be a driving force in an industry undergoing major transformation. We are delighted to support Dura on its journey.”

Detroit area private equity firm The Charlton Group Inc. is a minority owner of Dura in the deal.

Kimberly Rodriguez, a longtime auto industry turnaround consultant and current CEO of Andra Rush’s trucking empire Rush Trucking, was named Dura’s CEO, the company said in a press release. Her appointment is effective Sept. 1.

Rodriguez joined Rush in February from Detroit-based Huron Consulting Group, where she served as a senior consultant. At Huron, she assisted in the bankruptcies and restructuring of several then-distressed auto suppliers, including Tower Automotive, Dura Automotive, Revstone Industries and Collins & Aikman, among others.

Employees at Dura were informed of the deal and the incoming CEO Thursday morning.

The deal marks the third owner of the company since financier and former owner Lynn Tilton’s Patriarch Partners entered the U.S. assets of Dura under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October 2019. The MiddleGround deal was for the entire global company with 6,700 employees in 13 countries and revenue of $870 million last year.

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