J.F. Lehman & Co.-Backed SDI Files For Chapter 11

(Reuters) – U.S. auto parts manufacturer Special Devices Inc filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Monday, citing a decline in automobile sales.

The Moorpark, California-based company makes components used in car airbags, detonators for mining companies and pyrotechnic devices used by aerospace and defense companies.

It was founded in the 1950s as a maker of explosives for special effects in films, according to its website.

The company listed assets of about $53.1 million and liabilities of about $103.5 million as of July 27, 2008. It has about 308 employees, court documents show.

The company tried to refinance senior debt notes worth about $73.6 million, but those efforts failed in November leading to the bankruptcy filing, Harry Rector, chief financial officer of the company said in an affidavit filed with the court on Monday.

Companies in the auto supply chain, such as Special Devices, have been in a tough spot this year as Congress debates restructuring plans and a potential bailout for the big Detroit three automakers. Auto parts maker Precision Parts International, filed for bankruptcy protection last week with a plan to wind down its operations and, over the past month, Delphi Corp has had to make unique arrangements to keep financing its operations during bankruptcy.

Credit rating agency Fitch Ratings recently placed six other auto parts suppliers on “rating watch negative” saying they face a “steep global downturn in auto production” and negative consequences from a potential automaker bankruptcy.

The case is In re Special Devices Inc, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware, No. 08-13312. (Reporting by Emily Chasan; Editing by Andre Grenon)