WL Ross & Co. and Lear Corporation Form Partnership to Explore Acquisition Opportunities in the Automotive Interior Sector
SOUTHFIELD, Mich., Oct. 17 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/
-- WL Ross & Co. LLC (WLR), a leading private equity firm, and Lear
Corporation (NYSE: LEA), one of the world's largest automotive interior
systems suppliers, today announced that they have signed a framework
agreement providing for a joint venture relationship to explore
strategic acquisition opportunities in the automotive interior
"This proposed joint venture with Lear provides a solid platform for
building a leading, global automotive interior components supplier. We
see many opportunities to improve the operating fundamentals and
profitably grow this business through acquisitions and restructuring
actions," said Wilbur L. Ross Jr., WL Ross & Co. LLC Chairman and
Among the opportunities the partners intend the proposed joint
venture to explore is acquisition of all or a portion of Collins &
Aikman Corporation. Franklin Mutual Advisers, LLC, (FMA), which is also a
party to the framework agreement, has agreed to co-invest in the
proposed joint venture with WLR.
The proposed joint venture would involve Lear's Interior Systems
business segment, but not its seating and electrical & electronics
businesses. WLR would contribute capital to fund acquisitions.
Establishment of the joint venture entity is subject to the negotiation
and execution of a definitive joint venture agreement between the
"The market for interior component products is severely distressed
and we have indicated that we are actively engaged in finding a better
solution for our customers and our shareholders," said Bob Rossiter,
Lear Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "With the support of our
customers, the proposed joint venture provides the best near and
long-term opportunity to achieve a viable business model for this
product segment, while also offering significant opportunities to
participate in the ongoing restructuring and consolidation of the
automotive supply industry."
Peter Langerman, FMA's Chief Executive Officer added, "Participating
with world-class partners in the consolidation of this segment of the
automotive supply business is a very attractive business proposition."
Since its founding in April, 2000, WL Ross & Co. LLC, has
sponsored $4.5 billion of alternative investments in the steel,
textiles, coal, automotive and financial services industries in the US,
UK, France, China, Japan and Korea.
Lear Corporation is one of the world's largest suppliers of
automotive interior components and systems. Lear provides complete
seating systems, interior trim products and electrical & electronics
systems. With annual net sales of $17 billion in 2004, Lear ranks #127
among the Fortune 500. The company's world-class products are
designed, engineered and manufactured by a diverse team of more than
110,000 employees in 34 countries. Lear's headquarters are in
Southfield, Michigan, and Lear stock is traded on the New York Stock
Exchange under the symbol (LEA). Further information about Lear is
available on the Internet at http://www.lear.com/ .
Franklin Mutual Advisers, LLC manages the Mutual Series family of
mutual funds and other accounts totaling more than $40 billion in
assets. FMA is a
subsidiary of Franklin Resources, Inc. (NYSE: BEN), a global investment management organization.
SOURCE: Lear Corporation
CONTACT: Wilbur L. Ross of WL Ross & Co. LLC, +1-212-826-2111; or Mel
Stephens of Lear Corporation, +1-248-447-1624
Web site: http://www.lear.com/
Company News On-Call: http://www.prnewswire.com/comp/518304.html
Posted on 10/17/2005