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Update: Exide ceasing operations at Bristol plant

May 31st, 2013 1:16 pm by Hank Hayes

Update: Exide ceasing operations at Bristol plant

Exide Corporation Battery Plant in Bristol, Tenn. David Grace file photo.

Update: 3:55 p.m.

An Exide Technologies quarterly report indicates its Bristol battery assembly operation is headed toward closing.

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD) has meetings scheduled at Exide next Thursday for 50 employees to be laid off.

“We have been informed that final layoffs will occur by August 2013,” TDLWD spokesman Jeff Hentschel said in an e-mail on Friday.

Exide, headquartered in Milton, Ga., notified the state last December it would cut nearly 170 workers.

But according to Recovery.gov, the federal government Web site tracking disbursement of federal stimulus funds, Exide received $34.2 million in December 2009 to expand its advanced manufacturing capacities in Georgia and at its Bristol facility.

Still, an Exide quarterly report issued last February said the Bristol assembly operations closure is part of a strategic initiative to have other manufacturing locations running near capacity.

The report also noted Exide recorded $5.2 million in restructuring charges “related to the closure of the Bristol, Tennessee flooded battery manufacturing facility.”

Sullivan County Mayor Steve Godsey said if the quarterly report is true, Exide would be responsible for taking care of the facility, including paying property taxes, unless it files for bankruptcy.

“Then it would be up to the city of Bristol and Sullivan County to figure out what we would do with (the facility),” Godsey said. “It would take a large manufacturing company to come in and occupy that facility because it is probably 400,000 square feet or so.”

The latest notice filed with the state, Godsey added, indicated Exide would leave about 100 workers at the plant location.

Tennessee law requires employers to send a written notice to  TDLWD’s Dislocated Worker Unit 60 days in advance of a plant closure or mass layoff.

The company’s laid off workers are not represented by a collective bargaining agreement, according to TDLWD.

“We’re committed to working with the displaced employees to find opportunities to utilize their skills or get training for new jobs,” Networks/Sullivan Partnership Chief Executive Officer Richard Venable said of the laid off workers.

State and local officials hailed Exide coming to Northeast Tennessee in 1994 when the company took over a former defense contractor’s facility. About 800 workers staffed the facility at its peak.

Forbes reported last April on Exide’s stock plunge, with  “panicked shareholders” dumping their shares for as little as $1.16.

Afterward, the company confirmed in a statement that it had hired the Lazard investment bank to advise “on financing alternatives to maximize the value of the company for all stakeholders.”

Company fortunes appeared on the uptick last fall when Exide was reported showcasing its new Vortex AGM battery at a Las Vegas automotive expo.

Exide’s stock was listed below 50 cents per share in Friday’s mid-day trading. The February quarterly report noted the company had a loss of $15.4 million on net sales of $805 million.

The company bills itself as one of the world’s largest producers, distributors and recyclers of lead-acid batteries.

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BRISTOL, Tenn. - Exide Technologies’ battery assembly operations is headed toward closure, and the state of Tennessee is moving to help laid-off workers.

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD) has meetings scheduled at Exide next Thursday for 50 employees to be laid off.

“We have been informed that final layoffs will occur by August 2013,” TDLWD spokesman Jeff Hentschel said in an e-mail.

Exide, based in Milton, Ga., notified the state last December it would cut nearly 170 workers.

According to an Exide quarterly report issued last February, the Bristol facility closure is part of a strategic initiative to have other manufacturing locations running near capacity.

The report also noted Exide recorded $5.2 million in restructuring charges “related to the closure of the Bristol, Tennessee flooded battery manufacturing facility.”

In that report, Exide also announced a loss of $15.4 million on net sales of $805 million.

State and local officials hailed Exide coming to Northeast Tennessee in 1994 when the company took over a former defense contractor’s facility. Nearly 800 workers staffed the facility at its peak.

Forbes reported last April on Exide’s stock plunge, with “panicked shareholders” dumping their shares for as little as $1.16. Afterward, the company confirmed in a statement that it had hired the Lazard investment bank to advise on restructuring.

Exide’s stock was listed below 50 cents per share in Friday’s mid-day trading.

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