Faurecia takes minority stake in Detroit supplier JV, announcement coming

Dustin Walsh covers auto suppliers for Crain's Detroit Business; an affiliate of Automotive News.

DETROIT -- Faurecia North America is the minority stakeholder in Rush Group's joint venture, Detroit Manufacturing Systems LLC.

The two were able to strike a deal after the North American arm of the French supplier closed its union negotiations in Saline, Mich., near Ann Arbor, an unnamed source says.

Faurecia -- the French interior products supplier with 2011 revenue of $21.4 billion -- has been negotiating to acquire the former Ford/Visteon plant in Saline from Automotive Components Holdings since August.

It's unclear exactly what parts would be produced by the joint venture. The Saline plant is one of the biggest interiors parts plants in the region. It makes door panels, instrument panels, center consoles and other interior trim for a number of Ford's major vehicles, including the Focus and Taurus.

This month, UAW Local 892 President Mark Caruso told Patch.com that Faurecia would use 25 percent of the 1.6 million-square-foot plant and transfer 600 of the plant's 2,300 employees to Detroit Manufacturing's plant in the Gateway Industrial Center in Detroit, as part of the JV.

It's unclear whether Detroit Manufacturing will operate in any capacity at the Saline plant.

John Mozena, a spokesman for Rush, said the company will not comment on "matters that are still in negotiation."

Faurecia also declined to comment beyond that it's in negotiations to acquire the plant.

Detroit Manufacturing and Faurecia are expected to announce the details of the JV later this week. Ford is also expected to announce a contract with the venture simultaneously.

Crain's Detroit Business, an affiliate of Automotive News, first learned of Detroit Manufacturing -- a joint venture formed by Rush Trucking CEO Andra Rush and, then, an unnamed partner in December. American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Inc. revealed the parts supplier JV was seeking 300,000 square feet of space at Axle's newly vacant Detroit-Hamtramck plant on Holbrook.

The JV shortly abandoned the effort, citing high costs to retrofit the plant to its specifications. Axle estimated retrofit costs to be $2 million.

Later that month, the Michigan Economic Growth Authority approved $4.2 million in property tax abatements over 12 years for the Gateway Industrial Center location on Southfield Road in Detroit.

At that time, the JV planned to hire 572 people over five years.

Plastics News contributed to this report.

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