PARIS -- Nexans SA, one of the world's largest cable makers, may sell its winding wire business to focus on higher-margin businesses.
This move would affect automakers in Europe, where Nexans has a 40 percent market share.
Winding wires are enameled copper wires that carry energy out of electrical motors to power devices such as the air conditioner.
Nexans sells its wires to most of Europe's automakers, either directly, to BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo for example, or indirectly, through suppliers such as Valeo.
In Europe, Nexans' biggest competitor is Italy's Invex.
Nexans CEO Gerard Hauser estimated that the auto industry contributed about E200 million, or 5 percent, of its total sales last year.
In 2004, "we'll have to ask ourselves whether we should get out of winding wires," Hauser said.
He estimated that the business is worth between E80 million and E100 million.
Nexans, a spinoff of French electronics company Alcatel SA, had sales of E4.05 billion in 2003 and an operating profit of E91 million.
But net profit was E1 million after the company took an exceptional charge of E21 million to reflect the depreciation of its winding wire business in the US.
Nexans' winding wiring business in the US is for sale. In addition it has closed a plant in Missouri.
Nexans said it ranks fourth in the US after Phelps Dodge, Essex and Rea in market share for winding wire and is therefore too small to compete profitably.