Richard Donnelly, the former General Motors Europe president who is a partner in a private investment firm, has made his third acquisition in two years.
The addition of Japanese auto parts supplier Asahi Tec raises to $800 million the estimated sales this year for the auto parts group of Ripplewood Holdings LLC.
Donnelly is an industrial partner at the firm.
"This shows Ripplewood's continued confidence in the global auto industry, specifically using Japanese companies as a springboard for building global companies," said Donnelly, who spent 38 years with GM.
The hostile takeover bid that ArvinMeritor Inc. initiated last month for Dana Corp. is one of the few deals announced in recent years by publicly traded North American Tier 1 suppliers.
Private equity firms such as Ripplewood, which raise cash from pension funds, insurance companies and institutions, have continued to snap up smaller companies.
These financial firms are largely unencumbered by the heavy debts the big strategic suppliers accumulated during industry consolidation of the 1990s.
In late June, Ripplewood bought majority ownership in publicly traded Asahi Tec of Shizuoka, Japan.
The company posted sales last year of $400 million from its automotive castings business including its ultralight die cast aluminum wheel business. Its operations are limited to Japan and Thailand. About 75 percent of its sales are auto related.
The strategy emerging from Ripplewood and Donnelly's deals indicate they are building two global industrial platforms: One for automotive castings and auto switches; the other for sensors and actuators.
Donnelly, 60, completed his first acquisition in 2001 of switch maker Niles Ltd. of Tokyo, which included Niles U.S.A. of Novi, Mich., and one U.S. plant.
Niles Ltd., where Donnelly is chairman, then closed on a deal in February to acquire switch maker Micro Craft Inc., also of Novi, and two plants.
Ripplewood hires industry experts such as Donnelly to find deals for its many platforms, including automotive retailing, specialty chemicals and auto parts.
Donnelly said he examines 50 companies a year for Ripplewood to acquire.
He said another two acquisitions could be completed within a year.