The exterior of the Exide Technologies plant in Muncie. (Photo: Jordan Kartholl)
MUNCIE, Ind. — Exide Technologies received bankruptcy court approval last week for its Americas business, including a battery recycling plant in Muncie, to be acquired by an affiliate of Atlas Holdings.
“Under Atlas’ ownership, we will continue to operate our transportation, GNB Industrial Power and recycling businesses, which includes the Muncie recycling plant,” Exide spokesperson Melissa Floyd told The Star Press. “This is definitely positive news for our employees in Muncie.”
In a Workers Adjustment Retraining and Notification Act (WARN Act) notice sent to the state in May, Exide had said that if it couldn’t sell the businesses then it “expects that it will be forced to conduct reductions-in-force or plant closings.”
The notice listed about 180 jobs at Muncie, including 19 environmental staff; three heath and safety staff; and six baghouse (pollution control) operators; along with 24 furnace operators, 19 battery breakers/operators, 23 refinery operators, and a number of electricians, janitors, technicians, production operators/supervisors, clerks, yard drivers and other positions.
This is the third time in two decades the company has filed for relief from its creditors through bankruptcy.
The company blamed the latest failure on the coronavirus pandemic; its large portfolio of non-performing assets; and legacy liabilities in North America, such as lead pollution of thousands of residential properties surrounding its former battery recycling plant in Vernon, Calif.
The Muncie plant is one of only two locations left in the United States where Exide still recycles spent lead-acid automotive, truck, golf cart, forklift, motorboat and other batteries.
A heavy metal, lead is particularly dangerous to children, and elevated levels of lead and arsenic can be found in the air and soil near facilities that recycle batteries.
The company has closed battery recycling plants in Frisco, Texas; Reading, Pa., and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in addition to the Vernon plant.
The lead reclaimed by the Muncie facility is used by other plants to manufacture new batteries. The company reports recycling more than 76,000 tons of lead per year in Muncie.
Recycling batteries keeps lead from being illegally dumped, or disposed of in landfills, and it is a substitute for virgin raw material.
During a bankruptcy auction, an affiliate of Atlas acquired assets of Exide’s ongoing Americas business and operations for $178.6 million, subject to adjustments, and assume certain liabilities related to the acquired assets.
“We are very excited about acquiring the assets of Exide’s Americas business,” Jacob Hudson, managing partner of Atlas Holdings, said in a news release. “We believe that, with a clean start and a strong balance sheet, the Exide Americas business has a very bright future, and we are looking forward to investing in its growth.”
“We are gratified to have generated strong interest in our Americas business and delighted to have reached this agreement with affiliates of Atlas, an investor with significant operational and financial resources and a proven track record of building strong, high-performance organizations,” Exide CEO Tim Vargo said in the news release. “Under new ownership, our Americas business will continue delivering high quality energy storage solutions and service to our customers, maximizing future growth and profitability.”
A private investment/equity firm based in Greenwich, Conn., Atlas Holdings operates internationally, like Exide. Its businesses include a diversified group of 20 manufacturers and distributors of healthy snacks, steel, aluminum, power generation, automotive door armrests and interior handles, lumber, plywood, veneer, paper, beer and wine containers, compressors for air conditioning and household refrigerators, and other products and services.
The acquisition is expected to close on Aug. 21.
Contact Seth Slabaugh at 765-213-5834 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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