Deal for former GM plant closer

Chinese company expected to make announcement soon, sources said.

Local officials say the Chinese company Fuyao is expected to announce this month — perhaps within days — that it is going ahead with the purchase of the former General Motors plant in Moraine and will begin transforming the facility into its first U.S.-based auto glass manufacturing factory.

Fuyao has not closed on the deal, they said, contrary to what was reported last week on the China Daily news website. And the $150 million purchase price reported in the story was widely exaggerated, according to Moraine City Manager Dave Hicks and Stu Lichter, founder and principal of Industrial Realty Group, the plant’s current owner.

But both Hicks and Lichter said the deal is close.

“Everything is proceeding on course,” Lichter said. “And I think we’re getting close, hopefully, to a successful conclusion.”

At stake are some 800 jobs Fuyao has said it will eventually bring to the plant.

The March 28 story on the China Daily news web site said the project has been approved by the Chinese “Ministry of Commerce” and Fuyao “bought” the plant for $150 million. It quotes Fuyao Chairman Cao Dewang as saying, “It’s a great deal, and lots of equipment in the plant is still in working order.”

“In the future, Fuyao will take full (advantage) of the geographical location since 85 percent of the automakers in the U.S. are distributed alongside the highway (Interstate 75),” the article quotes Dewang saying.

However, Lichter said the reported purchase price of $150 million is “wildly inaccurate.” He declined to say what the selling price would be. Dave Hicks, Moraine city manager, estimated it would be “south of $20 million.”

Lichter said Fuyao’s pre-purchase “due diligence” research into the plant is proceeding, and he thinks a purchase closing in April “is a good bet.”

Hicks agreed that Fuyao has not bought any of the plant property yet, and he questioned the price reported in the story. Hicks believes Fuyao is weeks away — perhaps days — from a closing, but he believes the company is still researching the site.

Fuyao is not planning to buy the entire plant, company leaders have said.

Montgomery County auditor’s office staff said Monday there was no record of a new purchase. The owner of the plant property was still IRG-Moraine LLC, a staffer in the auditor’s office mapping department said. The last entry in the property record was in November 2013, when the property was most recently re-platted.

Los Angeles-based industrial property investor IRG and its Ohio partners bought the property in early 2011.

On Jan. 10, in a Statehouse ceremony with Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Dewang publicly affirmed his company’s intention to buy the property, which GM shut down in late 2008. The company plans to make automotive glass on the site, eventually employing some 800 workers, Fuyao leaders have said.

A message seeking comment was left with Fuyao’s North American office.

China Daily said Fuyao’s recently opened auto glass plant in Kaluga, Russia will have an annual production of 1 million sets of automotive safety glass in its initial phase of production, reaching 2 million sets eventually.

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