KPS creates platform to acquire automotive suppliers, makes first acquisition

KPS Capital Partners created a new company, Autokiniton Global Group, to look for opportunities in the global automotive supply industry. George Thanopoulos was named Autokiniton’s chief executive officer. Autokiniton has already made an acquisition, agreeing to buy L&W, Inc., an automotive supplier.

Press Release

KPS Capital Partners, LP (“KPS”) announced today that it created a new company, Autokiniton Global Group, LP (“AGG”), to pursue investments in the global automotive supply industry. George Thanopoulos, a widely respected industry executive, will serve as AGG’s Chief Executive Officer.

KPS also announced today that AGG has entered into definitive agreements to acquire L&W, Inc. (“L&W” or the “Company”). Following completion of the transaction, Mr. Thanopoulos will become L&W’s Executive Chairman. Scott Jones will continue to serve as President and lead the Company’s world-class management team.

L&W is a leading “Tier 1” supplier in the automotive industry, specializing in hot and cold metal stampings and welded assemblies. The Company is a leader in metal-formed components and complex assemblies, with a product portfolio that is well-positioned for key automotive trends, including electrification, lightweighting and emission reduction regulations. L&W’s unique vertical integration from design through delivery results in best-in-class quality, service and delivery to customers. The Company has received over 100 awards from customers throughout its history. Headquartered in New Boston, Michigan, L&W operates 23 sales, engineering and production facilities located throughout the United States with over 3,200 employees.

KPS and Mr. Thanopoulos have a history of successfully working together to create, operate and grow automotive supply businesses. KPS and Mr. Thanopoulos partnered in 2005 to form HHI Group Holdings, LLC (“HHI”). HHI, through a series of acquisitions and other growth initiatives, became the largest North American manufacturer of highly engineered, safety-critical forged components for automotive customers and a leading manufacturer of complex, highly engineered powdered metal powertrain components and wheel bearings. HHI was sold in 2012.

Michael Psaros, Co-Founder and Co-Managing Partner of KPS, said, “KPS is thrilled to reestablish its partnership with George Thanopoulos with the objective of replicating our shared success on a much greater scale. Our previous initiative with George, HHI, consolidated and transformed the fragmented automotive forging industry in North America, creating a company that provided its customers with stable industry leadership and world-class products, quality, technology and service. KPS intends to invest a significant amount of capital in AGG to expand the business through acquisitions in the automotive parts industry globally, leveraging our industry knowledge, manufacturing expertise and relationships on a global basis.”

George Thanopoulos said, “We are very excited to acquire L&W and launch AGG. L&W possesses world-class assets, industry-leading quality and service, and a commitment to investing in state-of-the-art technology and process development. L&W’s greatest asset is its customer relationships established over decades. KPS and I look forward to working with L&W’s President Scott Jones and the Company’s management team to build on the Company’s unique strengths with a new strategic vision, financial resources and exceptional credentials in the global automotive industry.”

Completion of the transaction is expected in spring 2018 and is subject to customary closing conditions and approvals. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

About George Thanopoulos

George Thanopoulos served as the Chief Executive Officer of Metaldyne Performance Group Inc. (“MPG”), an industry-leading metal former focused on powertrain applications with over $3 billion in annual revenue, from August 2014 to April 2017. During his tenure as Chief Executive Officer, MPG completed an initial public offering in 2014 and subsequent sale to American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings, Inc. in 2017, where Mr. Thanopoulos has served as a Director. Mr. Thanopoulos formerly served as a Director of Global Brass and Copper Holdings, Inc., JL French Automotive Castings, Inc. and Chassis Brakes International Group. He also served as Chief Executive Officer of HHI Group Holdings, LLC from 2005 – 2014, a company he co-founded in partnership with KPS. Mr. Thanopoulos began his career at MascoTech Inc. in 1985 serving in various engineering, plant management and executive management roles.

About Autokiniton Global Group, LP

AGG was created by KPS Capital Partners, LP to pursue investments in the global automotive supply industry in partnership with George Thanopoulos.

About L&W, Inc.

L&W is a leading “Tier 1” supplier in the automotive industry, specializing in hot and cold metal stampings and welded assemblies. The Company is a leader in metal-formed components and complex assemblies, with a product portfolio that is well-positioned for key automotive trends, including electrification, lightweighting and emission reduction regulations. L&W’s unique vertical integration from design through delivery results in best-in-class quality, service and delivery to customers. The Company has received over 100 awards from customers throughout its history. Headquartered in New Boston, Michigan, L&W operates 23 sales, engineering and production facilities located throughout the United States with over 3,200 employees. For more information about L&W, visit http://www.lweng.com/.

About KPS Capital Partners, LP

KPS is the manager of the KPS Special Situations Funds, a family of investment funds with approximately $5.4 billion of assets under management. For over two decades, the Partners of KPS have worked exclusively to realize significant capital appreciation by making controlling equity investments in manufacturing and industrial companies across a diverse array of industries, including basic materials, branded consumer, healthcare and luxury products, automotive parts, capital equipment and general manufacturing. KPS creates value for its investors by working constructively with talented management teams to make businesses better, and generates investment returns by structurally improving the strategic position, competitiveness and profitability of its portfolio companies, rather than primarily relying on financial leverage. The KPS Funds’ Portfolio Companies have aggregate annual revenues of approximately $7.0 billion, operate 165 manufacturing facilities in 31 countries, and employ approximately 50,000 associates, directly and through joint ventures worldwide. The KPS investment strategy and portfolio companies are described in detail at www.kpsfund.com.