Ford reveals tentative deal to sell Saline ACH plant, Washtenaw County's largest for-profit employer
Automotive Components Holdings' Saline plant — the largest private-sector, for-profit employer in Washtenaw County — would be sold to a French automotive supplier under a tentative deal with Ford Motor Co., the Associated Press is reporting.
The 1.6 million-square-foot Saline ACH plant employs more than 2,300 workers and has been operating at full capacity producing interior components for the popular Ford Focus.
But its long-term fate has been unclear since Ford formed ACH in 2005 to shut down or sell 17 former Visteon Corp. plants.
It was not immediately clear Tuesday night how a sale of the East Michigan Avenue plant would affect its 2,300 workers.
ACH spokeswoman Della DiPietro declined to identify the possible buyer but did confirm the existence of a tentative deal.
"Next we begin our negotiations regarding various elements of the proposed transaction, sale of the Saline plant and its business, and we intend to work toward a final agreement as quickly as possible," she told AnnArbor.com this morning.
A representative from the United Auto Workers chapter that represents the Saline workers was not immediately available for comment this morning.
It's unlikely that a buyer would purchase the ACH plant without also securing a deal to continue supplying parts to Ford.
Faurecia had $18.2 billion in sales and 75,676 employees in 2010, according to Yahoo! Finance. European carmakers represent 75 percent of Faurecia's sales, although the company's customers also include Ford and GM.
A sale of the ACH property, which represents about 8 percent to 9 percent of the city of Saline's tax base, would come almost four years years after auto supplier Johnson Controls tentatively agreed to buy the site. But that deal collapsed as the auto crisis intensified.
The plant's 2,000 workers is up from 1,600 employees in early 2009 and 1,350 in November 2007.
From 2005 to 2009, ACH invested $120 million in upgrades at the plant, including new technology and logistical improvements to the manufacturing process. The company was also expected to spend about $32 million in 2010 to upgrade equipment.
The deal comes less than three months after ACH revealed a separate agreement to sell the fuel tank production business housed at its 1.28 million-square-foot Milan plant to French auto supplier Inergy Automotive Systems.
Inergy plans to move the fuel tank production to a a new facility it plans to construct elsewhere in southeast Michigan. Many of the Milan plant's 500 workers will be given the chance to transfer to the new facility, which will be built within three years.
But it also means that the Milan plant will be vacant within three years if ACH fails to find a buyer.
Inergy, a subsidiary of Levallois, France-based Compagnie Plastic Omnium, is leasing the Milan plant until the new facility is ready.