April 15, 2003

Castle Harlan Fund Acquires Leading Maker of Automotive Roof Racks, Towing Systems


Castle Harlan, Inc., the New York merchant bank, and Advanced Accessory Systems, LLC, (AAS) the leading manufacturer of automotive roof racks and towing systems in North America and Europe, announced today that a private-equity investment fund organized and managed by Castle Harlan has acquired AAS with management in a transaction valued at approximately $260 million.

Two-thirds of AAS’s sales are to original equipment manufacturers in North America and Europe and one-third to the aftermarket. Customers include all of the major automotive companies. AAS is based in Sterling Heights, Michigan, and has 18 manufacturing facilities throughout North America and Europe.

The company had been owned by JPMorgan Partners, the private-equity arm of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., and Celerity Partners, who purchased AAS along with management in 1995.

The company’s roof rack division, SportRack Automotive, has the leading market share in North America and a growing presence in Europe. The company’s European subsidiary, Brink International, is the largest supplier of towing systems in Europe, and its Valley Industries subsidiary is the second largest in North America.

The company had revenues of $328 million and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), adjusted for certain non-recurring items, of $46.6 million in the year ended December 31, 2002, up from revenues of approximately $60 million and EBITDA of $8.6 million at the time of the acquisition of the platform company, Mascotec Accessories, at the outset of the project.