State Offers Help for Norwalk Furniture, While Bank Refuses to Budge
Multi-million Dollar Loan Could Help Salvage as Many as 2,000 Jobs NORWALK, Ohio, July 24 /EMWNews/ -- In an effort to combat the unexpected shut down of Norwalk Furniture's operations, the State of Ohio's Department of Development has graciously extended a multi-million dollar loan offer that would allow the company to resume operations and pursue its restructuring plan. The July 18 shut down was the result of sudden demands by Comerica, the company's principal banker, that Norwalk Furniture retire its $11 million revolving debt, forcing the company to idle more than 840 production and office employees across Ohio, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee. Although five private equity firms have shown interest in negotiating a purchase of the company, Comerica has continued to refuse negotiations with them. If the bank chooses not to negotiate the debt, the company could be forced to shut down permanently and liquidate its assets, leaving as many as 2,000 workers jobless. According to Domenic Aversa, acting CEO of Norwalk Furniture, the state's offer is a valuable contribution to a difficult situation. "If Comerica forces a liquidation of company assets, they will actually yield less money than they would if they accepted one of many investment offers. More importantly, 2,000 workers in four states will suffer," said Aversa. "Norwalk is a 106-year-old company that, since its inception, has positively impacted the communities in which our plants and stores are located. We are simply asking for the chance to discuss our options for the sake of our employees and their families." Norwalk has worked closely with Gov. Ted Strickland and Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher on the term sheet that has been submitted to company executives. The loan is designed to help a prospective buyer purchase the company, and its debt, from Comerica. Once a firm commitment is submitted, it will be up to Comerica to decide the company's fate. Norwalk Furniture Corporation, founded in 1902, is a family-owned company that makes quality upholstered furniture sold under the Norwalk, J. Raymond and Hickory Hill trade names. The company also has a network of retail stores, Norwalk - The Furniture Idea, which includes company and independently owned franchised furniture stores throughout the United States and Canada. For information, visit the Norwalk Furniture Web site at http://www.norwalkfurniture.com .
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