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Trico management team to stay after purchase is complete

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CLEVELAND—Crowne Group L.L.C. plans to purchase Trico Products Corp. from funds managed by equity firm Kohlberg & Co. L.L.C. to expand its automotive components operation.

The companies signed a definitive agreement on the purchase July 30 but did not release terms of the transaction.

Headquartered in Rochester Hills, Mich., Trico is one of the world's largest manufacturers, marketers and distributors of rubber windshield wiper blades, systems and components. It has a strong base in both the original equipment and aftermarket sectors.

Crowne is a major player in both the OEM and aftermarket sectors. It offers fuel pumps and gas springs to the aftermarket segment and numerous products to OE customers, according to Stephen Graham, chief financial officer of the company.

Once the acquisition is finalized, Trico will continue to operate out of its headquarters and the current management team—led by President and CEO Lou Braga—will remain in place, Crowne said.

The purchased company—founded in 1917—has a work force of about 2,450 at facilities spread throughout the U.S., Mexico, Asia, Europe, Australia and South America.

“Trico represents an excellent strategic fit for Crowne due to its balanced mix of business between aftermarket and OEM, potential for manufacturing and distribution synergies, a great infrastructure and management team,” Graham said.

He said the purchase will take Crowne “into a new phase of our evolution, and we look forward to working with our new partners as we continue to successfully execute our strategy.”

Trico officials did not comment on where it would likely fit within the Crowne organization or speculate on its future growth opportunities under the Crowne umbrella.

Kohlberg's Evan Wildstein, a partner at the private equity firm, said the company was pleased with the outcome of its investment in Trico and believe it has a bright future.

“We are confident that the company will continue on its trajectory of success under Crowne Group's ownership,” he said.

It purchased Trico in mid-2007 from Tomkins P.L.C. for about $111 million. It was part of the disposal of non-core businesses within the England-based firm. Tomkins, in turn, was acquired by Pinafore Acquisitions Ltd. in September 2010.