Southfield, Michigan – Automotive seating and electronics supplier Lear Corporation has filed for bankruptcy protection for its operations in Canada and the U.S. It is the largest supplier to file for protection this year.

The company did not file for protection in Europe, where it does more business than in North America, or in any other international markets.

Lear filed in the U.S. Southern District of New York, listing total assets of about US$1.27 billion against liabilities of about $4.54 billion. The company has been hit by extensive shutdowns at Chrysler and General Motors plants, as well as slow vehicle sales overall. General Motors is Lear’s largest customer.

Lear said that it has sought approval from the court to pay employee wages and benefits worldwide without interruption, and to continue its normal course funding of its two pension obligations in the U.S. and Canada.

“We are conducting business as usual and are very pleased to have received strong support from our lender and bondholder groups for our debt restructuring plan,” said CEO and president Bob Rossiter. “We intend to proceed on an expedited basis and expect to submit the plan to the Bankruptcy Court within 60 days. Our goal is to emerge from this process quickly and with an appropriate capital structure to support our long-term business objectives as a leading global competitor with the financial flexibility to build on our strengths and take advantage of future growth opportunities.”

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