July 9 (Bloomberg) — Lear Corp., which filed for bankruptcy in the U.S. on July 7, was prohibited by a judge from tapping its Canadian plants for cash.
Lear, the world’s second-largest maker of automobile seats, owed its Canadian units about $82 million as of May 31, according to a report from the accounting firm RSM Richter, which was appointed information officer by the judge.
Lear’s Canadian operations “shall not make advances or transfers of funds to any of the applicants or any of their affiliates by way of loan or otherwise,” Ontario Superior Court Judge Sarah Pepall said in an order issued today that recognizes the U.S. bankruptcy proceedings. She made an exception for payments due in the ordinary course of business.
The fate of Ford of Canada’s St. Thomas assembly plant may not be known until after the automaker has completed its contract talks with the Canadian Auto Workers union, industry observers said yesterday.
Ford will not announce a plant closure, or what it will take to land a new vehicle, while it is seeking a concessionary collective agreement from the union.
“They are in the middle of labour negotiations and you do not announce plant closures in the middle of negotiations,” said automotive analyst Dennis DesRosiers.
Tony Faria, business professor at the University of Windsor and an industry analyst, agreed nothing will be decided until talks are completed, but those talks may give the plant a chance for a new lease on life — as long as the federal and provincial governments also pledge financial support to retool the plant, he said.
“The St. Thomas plant will be used as a bargaining tool, in one fashion or another,” to wrestle concessions from the union and money from government. “It serves Ford’s purpose in the short term to not announce a closing now.”