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Leetsdale's Hussey Copper auctioned for $107.7 million

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Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011

Bankrupt Hussey Copper Ltd. of Leetsdale was sold to a unit of a New York private equity firm for $107.75 million during a bankruptcy court auction, according to court documents filed on Friday.

Libertas Copper LLC, a unit of Patriarch Partners, outbid several other bidders at a U.S. Bankruptcy Court auction in Wilmington, Del. Revere Copper Products, KPS Capital Partners LP and Nehoshet Enterprises of Coraopolis were among the other bidders. KHC Acquisition LLC of Red Bank, N.J., submitted a starting bid of $88.7 million.

Libertas Copper will be entering the copper production business with plants in Leetsdale and Eminence, Ky. Hussey Copper makes a variety of copper products and value-added copper products, including sheet, tape, copper-nickel alloy sheet and plate and strip. It operates the world's largest rolled copper bar plant in Eminence.

A spokesman for Patriarch Partners in New York could not be reached for comment. Patriarch Partners is owned by Lynn Tilton, who dubs herself the "turnaround queen" on its website. Patriarch has a portfolio of 70 companies, including some manufacturers.

Hussey Copper and five of its subsidiaries filed for bankruptcy Sept. 27, saying its debts and assets topped $100 million. The company was founded in Pittsburgh in 1848.

"We're relieved that we got an owner," said John Cunnard, president of United Steelworkers Local 1211, which represents about 380 steelworkers at the Leetsdale plant.

Cunnard hopes Libertas Copper will keep the plant operating, but he has not yet met Tilton to talk with her about her company's plans.

"This is a plant that makes money. Business is good, but not as good as it could be," said Cunnard, who has worked at the plant for 12 years. He attributes the drop in business to the uncertainty of bankruptcy.

Libertas Copper has agreed to honor the existing USW contract, which expires in November 2012. Cunnard said he anticipates that the sale will close in about 30 days.

Libertas Copper was able to overcome the objections of some of the creditors, including the USW, which had opposed bidders that would have altered the pension plan of its union employees at the Kentucky plant. Libertas Copper agreed not to change the defined benefit pension plan for workers hired before January 2011. Workers hired after that date will have a defined contribution plan, a 401(k).

Both Hussey Copper CEO Roy D. Allen and James Clayton, human relations director, could not be reached for comment.

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