Dana Corp. has taken a large step toward emerging from bankruptcy. The court hearing its case approved the company’s proposed plan of reorganization and authorized Dana to begin soliciting votes from its creditors, the embattled auto parts maker announced.

The company, which filed for bankruptcy in March 2006, said that it will begin mailing notices of the proposed confirmation hearing to qualified claim holders in about one week. The confirmation hearing for the reorganization plan is set for December 10.

Under the plan, a group of investors led by Centerbridge Capital Partners will make a $790 million equity investment in Dana. Unsecured creditors are to receive 72 percent to 86 percent of the $3 billion they are owed, according to Reuters. They will be paid in new stock.

Centerbridge’s funds will consist of $250 million for preferred stock in the reorganized Dana and up to $540 million of additional preferred stock not purchased by qualified creditors or an investor group, Reuters said. The wire service reported that Dana’s reorganization has included selling several businesses, renegotiating labor contracts with its hourly workers, and reaching agreements with its customers.

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