Crestview looks to sell airbag maker Key Safety Systems

Crestview, a New York-based private equity firm, has tapped Goldman Sachs Group and UBS AG to run a sale process for the company, which it acquired in 2007 for an undisclosed sum, the people said this week.

The auction, which is in its initial stages, has drawn interest from other companies in the automotive sector as well as buyout firms, the people added, asking not to be identified because the sale process is confidential.

Key Safety Systems is expected to have EBITDA of around $115 million in 2013, one of the people said.

The sources pointed to Stockholm-based Autoliv as a peer of Key Safety Systems that can be used for valuation comparisons. Autoliv, which has a market value of $8.6 billion, trades at 7 times 12-month projected EBITDA, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Crestview, Goldman Sachs and UBS declined to comment. Key Safety Systems did not respond to a request for comment.

Sterling Heights, Michigan-based Key Safety Systems supplies car safety components including airbags, seat belts, steering wheels and position and movement sensors. The company generates over 65 percent of its sales outside of North America.

Key Safety Systems had revenue of $1.03 billion in 2012, according to Moody’s Investors Service Inc.

The company was an early pioneer of automotive safety systems in the 1960s, according to its website. The vast majority of its revenue is contracted as its safety equipment has become a staple in cars made by the likes of Ford Motor Co, Chrysler Group LLC and General Motors Co.

Key Safety Systems’ auction comes as Crestview is about to complete the acquisition of another automotive parts supplier, Stackpole International. Crestview is buying Ancaster, Ontario-based Stackpole from private equity peer Sterling Group for around $500 million, according to Moody’s.

Greg Roumeliotis and Soyoung Kim are reporters for Reuters News in New York