PARIS - French parts maker Valeo SA quickly has been linking up with Japanese suppliers that Nissan Motor Co. is expected to set free as part of its restructuring:
First, Valeo announced a joint venture with the clutch division of Unisia Jecs.
Then, Valeo set up a major venture with climate control and injection systems maker Zexel.
JATCO TransTechnology Ltd., Ichikoh and Exedy have been in talks with Valeo, according to Japanese press reports. JATCO makes transmissions, Ichikoh produces lighting and Exedy manufactures clutches.
These companies have close ties to Nissan, which announced Oct. 18 that it will sell stakes in 1,390 suppliers and affiliate companies. They are eager to line up non-Nissan customers in the wake of the automaker's decision to dismantle its keiretsu supplier network.
Valeo Chairman Noel Goutard told Automotive News Europe that the deal with Zexel 'puts us at the same level as Delphi and Visteon (in climate control), while Denso remains the industry leader. But we are the only one that is not dependent on a carmaker as its main shareholder.'
The deal gives Valeo a strong industrial base in Japan and Asia and doubles its heating, ventilation and air conditioning business.
Valeo and Zexel will set up a joint venture that includes the two companies' climate-control operations in Asia, plus Zexel's compressor division. The venture will operate 14 plants in the United States, Japan, Thailand, Korea and China.
It will employ 4,500 workers and expects sales of $1.1 billion. At first, Zexel will own 60 percent of the venture, but Valeo's stake could rise to 50 percent.
Valeo also will acquire Zexel's climate control operations in the United States and Europe. Zexel will take a stake of up to 20 percent in Valeo Climatisation, Valeo's climate-control division in France.