DETROIT -- Lear Corp. CEO Robert Rossiter, a key architect of the company's phenomenal growth, is preparing to abandon Lear's campaign to be a one-stop shop for complete vehicle interiors.
Over the past two decades, Lear has spent billions to make good on its pledge to produce virtually any interior component -- seats, headliners, door panels, trim, instrument panels, cockpits and carpeting.
Now Lear is preparing to spin off its $3.5 billion global interior trim business into a proposed joint venture.
Last week, Lear announced plans to join billionaire financier Wilbur Ross Jr. and another financier in a joint venture to buy distressed automotive suppliers. One prime candidate for acquisition is Collins & Aikman Corp., which is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.
Combining Lear's interior trim business with other industry players such as Collins & Aikman would create an industry giant. Last year, Collins & Aikman generated $3.90 billion in global automotive sales.
Lear probably would retain a minority stake in the joint venture and operate the business. Ross would own a majority share. Negotiations are continuing.
But as Lear plans to unload its unprofitable interior trim business, the joint venture would acquire thousands of Lear employees and dozens of Lear factories around the world. Lear wants to focus on its profitable seating and electronics business.