Private equity veteran snaps up auto parts maker

International Auto Components Group, a joint venture company recently formed by industrials buyout veteran Wilbur Ross, Franklin Mutual Advisers and Lear Corporation, has agreed to buy most of the assets of auto parts maker Collins & Aikman Europe.

The agreement will allow IAC to buy Collins & Aikman Europe’s operations in Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, and the UK. These serve Ford, General Motors, DaimlerChrysler, Porsche, Saab, Volkswagen, Volvo and other original equipment manufacturers. The Italian operations servicing Fiat are excluded from the sale.

Wilbur Ross, chairman of IAC, said: “We are delighted to make IAC’s first acquisition within a month of announcing the joint venture company. This is the start of a major global factor in the automotive interior plastics industry.”

Ross is also reportedly interested in the US operations of Collins & Aikman, which are worth more than US$1bn, and Delphi, General Motors’ largest supplier.

IAC said the purchase price was more than US$100m, subject to certain final adjustments and the assumption of liabilities and commitments.

C&A has struggled this year following the difficulties of its major customers, Ford and General Motors, and fell into Chapter 11 protection after being acquired by private equity specialist Heartland Industrial Advisors.