DETROIT - Visteon Automotive Systems has agreed to buy a majority interest in South Korea's largest producer of instrument panels.
The Dearborn, Mich., supplier plans to purchase more than 50 percent ownership in Duck Yang Industry Co. Ltd.
The company, based in Ulsan, South Korea, molds instrument panels and other plastic interior parts for Hyundai Motor Corp., South Korea's largest carmaker.
Visteon paid $30 million in cash to buy a majority share of Duck Yang, said Visteon spokeswoman Cheryl Eberwein. The transaction is scheduled to close in January.
Duck Yang, publicly traded on the Korean Stock Exchange, had undergone a sharp drop in sales since 1997. The Korean parts maker recorded $47 million in sales in 1998, compared with $87 million in the prior year. Profit was down to $92,800 last year, after a steep 25 percent decline.
Still, the company is the largest maker of instrument panels in Asia, producing about 1.4 million panels annually.
'The company will help us continue to grow our global cockpit business,' Eberwein said.
The purchase gives Visteon its first interior-parts operation in South Korea and enhances its opportunities with Hyundai, she said.
Visteon already holds part of a joint venture for climate-control systems in South Korea, and has plants throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The company, the parts-making unit of Ford Motor Co., recorded $17.8 billion in worldwide sales last year.
Duck Yang specializes in complete instrument panels, called crash pads in South Korea. The company is developing modular panels and also makes vibration pads, arm rests, consoles and glove box doors.
Visteon plans to share Duck Yang's technology with other Visteon operations.
Duck Yang has plants in Ulsan, Asan and Yesan, South Korea, as well as a development center in Kyungju, Eberwein said. The plants perform injection molding and vacuum forming.
According to Duck Yang's Web site, the company, which was founded in 1977, holds about a 48 percent share of the instrument panel market in South Korea.