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home : most recent : manufacturing July 15, 2018

7/7/2018 6:24:00 PM
Littler downfall: Investment 'Superman' bought, bankrupted Albany factory

Seth Slabaugh, Star Press

ALBANY, IND. — The Littler family says their longtime Littler Diecast factory was a financially stable and profitable aluminum diecasting and precision machining business when they sold it to Brahm Corp. in 2016.

Customers included BorgWarner PDS, which makes components for Ford, General Motors and other auto manufacturers.

In less than two years, creditors began suing the company, after which the new owner filed a petition for relief under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code, closed the doors and left town with no explanation. About 100 jobs were lost.

The town of Albany still doesn't know what happened, even though it had spent time and money trying to help the new owner, hailed by the Indian press as an investment superhero.

"Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's … Bhavook Tripathi!" wrote a reporter for New Delhi-based Outlook Business magazine in a 2012 profile of the "Indiana Jones of D-Street" (the address of the Bombay Stock Exchange). 

In Indiana however, bankruptcy proceedings, creditor lawsuits and a member of the Littler family paint a less flattering picture of the multi-millionaire.

In March of 2016, Alabama-based Regions Bank funded a loan to the new factory owner, Brahm, doing business in Albany (population 2,165) as Littler Diecast, a Brahm Corp. Within one year, the debtor was in default, and by October 2017 stopped providing financial information to Regions, including Tripathi's tax returns, Regions says in bankruptcy-court filings.

"Around the same time … the debtor opened an account with a different bank, without the consent of Regions, and funded its operations through that other account," Regions bank attorney Kayla Britton wrote in February. "As a result, Regions has had virtually no visibility into the financial affairs of the debtor after October 2017 until just recently." 

On Feb. 9 of this year, Regions sued Littler/Brahm and the company's president, Tripathi (addresses in Carmel and in Pune, Maharashtra, India), in Delaware County Circuit Court 5 for unpaid debts exceeding $9 million.

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