Ford likely will steer clear of Visteon's fight with shareholders

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Is Visteon nearing the end of its short, unhappy life?

Last week, Reuters speculated that a major Visteon shareholder, Alden Global Capital, wants to break up the company and sell off the most valuable assets.

Visteon's most highly prized business is its joint venture, Yanfeng Visteon Automotive Trim Systems, which produces seats and interiors for China's fast-growing market.

Another prize would be Halla Climate Control Corp., a South Korean producer of air conditioning systems that is 70 percent owned by Visteon.

So far, Visteon has resisted efforts to break it up. It seems unlikely that the company will get much help from its former corporate parent, Ford Motor Co.

In 2005, Ford agreed to take back 17 unprofitable plants in the United States and Mexico that Visteon wanted to unload.

I don't expect Ford to play Good Samaritan again. Last week, Ford spokesman Todd Nissen said: "Our view is that Visteon is an independent company that makes its own decisions."

In a recent interview, Ford purchasing chief Tony Brown remarked that North American suppliers - and Ford - would benefit from an industry consolidation of suppliers.

Brown didn't mention any suppliers by name. But I'm guessing Brown will steer clear of any battles between Visteon and disgruntled shareholders.

If so, you're on your own, Visteon.

You can reach David Sedgwick at dsedgwick@crain.com.

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