S&P lowers Timken rating
NEW YORK - Pricing pressure from Timken Co.'s automaker customers have undercut profit margins and led to a lowering of debt ratings at the giant bearings company.
Standard & Poor's lowered its rating on four categories of Timken debt, affecting $600 million in rated debt securities. Timken has incurred higher costs from a share repurchase and a heavy capital investment program at a time of reduced profitability, the New York corporate rating service reported.
Company debt increased to 36 percent of total capital, well above the 25 percent Standard & Poor's expected. Timken is a leading supplier of tapered roller bearings and specialty steels.
Rossi named McLaren CEO
DETROIT - Steven Rossi has been named president and CEO of McLaren Performance Technologies. Rossi, who began at McLaren on Dec. 1, replaced Wiley McCoy as president. Rossi is an automotive veteran in public relations and engineering. Most recently, Rossi was vice president of global communications for the Chrysler group.
Scenic launched in Mexico
CUERNAVACA, Mexico - Renault SA produced Job 1 of its Scenic minivan for the Mexican market last week, building it at Nissan Mexicana's Cuernavaca plant. It was the first instance of joint manufacturing by the automakers' alliance.
The Scenic goes on sale in January; Renault expects to build 6,000 of the vehicles next year. At the end of 2001, the Renault Clio will be built by Nissan Mexicana at its Aguascalientes plant.
The Scenic has been adapted for Mexican roads with a retuned engine and fuel system and a beefed-up suspension.
Dealer groups unite to lobby
LANSING, Mich. - Two Michigan auto dealer associations have formed a joint venture to strengthen their lobbying efforts.
Auto Dealers of Michigan LLC is a new entity formed by the Detroit Auto Dealers Association and the Michigan Auto Dealers Association. It will be in Lansing.
SmartMove changes name
LEUVEN, Belgium - European telematics technology provider SmartMove NV of Leuven has changed its name to Acunia.
The new name honors Cristobal Acuna (pronounced 'Acunia'), the first cartographer to map the Amazon River, and symbolizes the company's desire to explore new areas of telematics, said co-founder Steven Buytaert.
Acunia also announced it has reached agreements with automakers to develop telematics services in vehicles for the European market.