Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly described where AlixPartners is based.
James Kamsickas, 48, the incoming CEO of Dana Holding Corp., has a clear mandate from the board to boost revenues and make acquisitions.
In a July 13 statement, Chairman Joseph Muscari approvingly noted his new CEO's "successful integration of a number of strategic acquisitions" in his previous job as president of International Automotive Components Group.
His predecessor, Roger Wood, leaves a strong balance sheet and good cash flow. In an April 20 interview, Wood told Automotive News that Dana, a major producer of axles, driveshafts and thermal management products, wanted to make some "bolt on" acquisitions ranging from $200 million to $500 million, and that at least one deal might materialize this year.
If Kamsickas is hunting for deals, this is a good time to do it, says Mark Wakefield, a managing director of AlixPartners, a consulting firm in New York City.
"Money is cheap, and [investors] are interested in autos," Wakefield said. "Companies are getting pretty good cash flow."
Meanwhile, IAC's prospects are somewhat murkier. Launched in 2006 by financier Wilbur Ross, IAC built itself into a global producer of interior trim by acquiring 16 rivals. Last year, the company generated sales of $5.9 billion -- enough to rank 43rd on Automotive News' list of the top global suppliers.
But the last time IAC made an acquisition was in July 2013, when it took a stake in South African joint venture IAC-Feltex (Pty) Ltd., a maker of automotive flooring, acoustics and trim components. Since then, IAC has passed up opportunities to acquire interior trim operations sold by Magna International Inc., Visteon Corp. and Johnson Controls Inc.
Moreover, IAC has announced that its new CEO will be Steve Miller, the former vice chairman of Chrysler Corp. who subsequently built a reputation as a turnaround artist.
Miller, 73, is best known for guiding Delphi Corp. through a difficult bankruptcy reorganization from 2005 through 2009. But Ross sought to quell speculation that IAC might be in turnaround mode.
"Steve's corporate roles often have drawn upon his turnaround experience, but that is not the case here," Ross said in a written statement last week. "Our interest is in his automotive experience and relationships."