1st quarter 2006
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Profile of International Auto Components Group: A New Force in European Automotive Interiors
published in Issue 64, 1st quarter 2006
In 2005 US financier Wilbur Ross—dubbed “The King of Bankruptcy”—turned his attention to the global automotive industry with the formation of International Auto Components Group. Over the previous five years, Mr Ross had built up a significant empire by buying weakened companies at low prices in the ailing steel, coal and textile producing industries of North America and Europe through his company WL Ross. He then built bigger companies—which provided opportunities for achieving economies of scale—and struck deals with investors in low wage economies overseas and with trade unions.
So far, this process has involved mainly companies with headquarters in the USA, including Burlington Industries and Cone Mills. But Mr Ross’s new automotive components group will be centred primarily in Europe—following the acquisition of Collins & Aikman’s European automotive interiors business in March 2006 and the proposed joint venture with Lear Corporation involving Lear’s European interiors operations, which is scheduled to take place in June 2006.
If the Lear joint venture goes ahead as planned, International Auto Components group will become a US$1 bn concern operating within an automotive interiors industry which is estimated by components supplier group Johnson Controls to be worth around US$75 bn. Wilbur Ross intends to build a 20% stake in this market through future acquisitions.