DETROIT -- Johnson Controls Inc., moving to enhance its seating business, particularly in Europe, said today it signed an agreement to acquire German seating expert Keiper and its specialty seat business Recaro.
Financial terms were not released. It is the second seating-related acquisition by Johnson Controls in Germany this month.
Keiper -- of Kaiserslautern, Germany -- is a leading producer of recliner system technology. The acquisition will include about 4,750 employees in seven countries, Johnson Controls said.
Keiper and Recaro have combined annual revenues of nearly $1 billion, Keiper spokesman Tilman Schafer said. Keiper’s customers include Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and General Motors, while Recaro’s major customers include Ford, Volkswagen, Porsche, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Mini, Aston Martin, Cadillac and Honda.
Keiper's Brazilian operations are excluded from the deal.
"This acquisition further strengthens our metal components and mechanisms business through the addition of the Keiper and Recaro brands," Beda Bolzenius, head of Johnson Controls' automotive operations, said in a statement.
He said Johnson Controls plans to leverage the purchase across its seat component portfolio, and expand in China and North America.
Keiper engineers and produces metal seat components, structures and mechanisms.
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The company's product lineup includes mechanisms that adjust seat length and height, recliners that adjust the backrest position of vehicle seats, and rear seat latches. The acquisition includes Recaro's automotive sport and specialty seat portfolio.
Johnson Controls said the purchase will allow it to develop new, differentiated seating products and technologies.
Martin Putsch, owner of the Keiper Recaro Group, said the sale would let the private company deal with challenges such as the auto industry's “fast-growing globalization and platform standardization."
The acquisition, subject to regulatory approval, is expected to close during the first half of 2011.
The acquisition follows Johnson Controls' Dec. 2 agreement to acquire German seat specialist maker C. Rob Hammerstein Group.
That purchase was expected to boost Johnson Controls' market share for seats in Europe, where it does most of its business, by giving it access to CRH customers such as BMW AG and Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz. The combined companies also plan to develop lightweight seats for future vehicles.
The CRH acquisition was expected to close by the end of January.
Johnson Controls ranks No. 8 on the Automotive News list of the top 100 global suppliers with worldwide parts sales to automakers of $12.8 billion in 2009. Europe accounted for 52 percent of that total.