Questor Awaits ASC Deal Close –

ASC Inc. was the first company to introduce sunroofs to the North American automotive market. Now the company is being acquired by Questor Management Co. LLC through the firm’s $865 million fund, Questor Partners Fund II L.P. A final closing is expected sometime next month. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Questor invests from $25 million to $175 million per deal.

In a related deal, Questor also has agreed to acquire Prechter Holdings Inc., which includes diverse real estate operating companies and other business endeavors.

Wallace Rueckel, a Questor principal who is involved in the transaction, described it as a special situation.

“There are other companies and other assets in that estate that the estate just wasn’t comfortable liquidating or selling (including real estate property and commercial buildings). As a condition of buying ASC, we had to acquire all of those,” he said.

For its part, Rueckel said ASC is a profitable company (the company had sales in excess of $300 million last year), but it needs to transition from a family business to a professional business.

Heinz Prechter, a well-known automotive entrepreneur who passed away in 2001, founded the company in 1965. He was also a friend of Jay Alix, co-founder and principal of Questor. The company is based in Southgate, Mich., and is today a supplier of automotive convertible systems, convertible tops, or retractable hard tops, and specialty vehicles. The company also engineers and develops niche and other low-volume, derivative and performance vehicles.

“We think they have a good strategy,” said Rueckel. “They’ve been moving toward becoming a fuller provider of specialty and niche vehicle systems and services for the auto industry, and they’ve won some substantial awards and are well regarded. And they really need some additional growth capital. They have a good management team, they just need help in focusing that direction.”

He added that Questor plans to supplement the company’s product design and add to the base of engineers the company employs.

Questor Management Co. LLC, based in Southfield, manages the Questor Partners Funds, which have more than $1.1 billion of committed equity capital. Fund II is roughly 30%, or $260 million, committed.

The firm does not focus on any one industry, and has owned a U.K.-based insurance brokerage firm, Rider Truck, two automotive exhaust manufacturers, a company that conducted alternative fuel conversions and one that conducted dermatological laboratory testing.

“We’re always looking for companies that have a good franchise but that need some further development in either capital or management assistance or strategic direction, or where we’re taking over non-core assets of larger companies,” said Rueckel. About ASC, he concluded, “Heinz Prechter was a visionary and the driving force behind this company. We want to try to maintain that type of insight.”