Private equity firm Patriarch Partners is to take a controlling stake in US auto parts supplier Dura Automotive Systems by investing up to US$125m in the company, a report on Friday said.

Patriarch Partners said it would merge Dura with the assets of Global Automotive Systems, a group of small parts suppliers owned by Patriarch.

Dura emerged from nearly two years in Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June 2008 and went private last January. It had sales of US$1.75bn in 2008 and has 9,800 employees in 16 countries, according to Reuters.

"Over the last 15 months Dura has accomplished a comprehensive business restructuring and is now financially poised for growth," Dura chief executive Tim Leuliette said in a statement.

"These transactions will make Dura one of the least-leveraged suppliers in the auto industry, expand our North American footprint and give us greater access to capital," he added.

Leuliette said at the Reuters Autos Summit last month that the US auto supply industry was severely squeezed by weak auto sales and demands for lower prices by automakers, and forecast a wave of consolidation as supplier valuations become cheaper.

Dura parts include driver control systems, seating control systems, glass systems and structural door modules. Global Automotive Systems has a broad range of metal-forming, welding and assembly capabilities.

The combined companies would operate under the Dura name, the news agency said.

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