N.Y. firm buys Bristol Compressors

Rick Wagner • Mar 6, 2007 at 4:48 AM

BRISTOL, Va. - One million dollars in Virginia money and a buyout is helping save about 1,000 jobs at Bristol Compressors, officials announced here Monday.

Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine and company officials Monday announced that 1,000 jobs at Bristol Compressors will be saved through the purchase of Bristol Compressors by KPS Capital Partners, a New York-based investment firm, from Johnson Controls. Johnson Controls began discussing the sale of the company in January 2006, shortly after purchasing it from York International in late 2005.

The KPS transaction will provide access to substantial capital to be invested in the further development of Bristol Compressors International, the company's new name under KPS ownership. The Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Revitalization Commission and Washington County committed a combined $1 million to assist KPS with the transaction.

Bristol's senior management team will implement a business plan developed in partnership with KPS focused on improving manufacturing, operations, productivity and supply chain management, according to a news release.

"This transaction marks the beginning of a new era for Bristol, with a new owner that has a track record of elevating good companies to achieve world-class operating performance," said Rick Izor, chief executive officer of Bristol Compressors.

Johnson Controls recently announced it was laying off 240 of 1,300 employees by the end of March.

"This agreement is a great example of the Tobacco Commission's duty to promote the economies of historically tobacco-dependent communities," said Delegate Terry Kilgore, R-Gate City, who is vice chairman of the commission. "Our priority is to ensure that our hardworking Virginians remain gainfully employed, and we're pleased to assist this project."

Kaine lauded Kilgore and state Sen. William Wampler, R-Bristol.

"KPS will work to get the cost structure of the company in a position to successfully compete in the marketplace, and I am pleased the state was able to move quickly with local and regional officials to help close this deal," Kaine said.

Bristol Compressors manufactures compressors used in air-conditioning units and heat pumps. The company's products are used for original manufacturer applications and wholesale distribution in more than 50 countries worldwide.

"We are excited to be the catalyst that transforms Bristol into a thriving competitor in its industry," said David Shapiro, a managing partner of KPS. "Bristol successfully developed market-leading products that will enable it to prosper under our ownership and continue as Washington County's largest employer."

KPS Capital Partners LP is the manager of the KPS Special Situations Funds, a family of private equity funds with more than $600 million of committed capital focused on constructive investing in restructurings, turnarounds and other special situations.

KPS has created new companies to purchase operating assets out of bankruptcy, established stand-alone entities to operate divested assets, and recapitalized highly leveraged public and private companies.

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