Lear seeking more of auto-electronics market

UT Automotive deal created No. 3 player


June 24, 1999|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. -- Lear Corp., the world's largest maker of vehicle interiors, is poised to expand in the $20 billion global automotive-electronics market after last month's purchase of UT Automotive for $2.3 billion.

The value of electronics per vehicle is expected to average $5,400 next year, up from $1,500 in 1990, James Vandenberghe, Lear's vice chairman, said yesterday.

Buying the United Technologies Corp. unit created the world's No. 3 maker of vehicle electrical systems, behind Delphi Automotive Systems Corp. and closely held Yazaki Corp. of Japan. Lear now can offer seats, overhead linings, doors, floors and instrument panels along with interior wiring and electronics.

"With the acquisition of UTA, Lear will be involved with seeing the proliferation of new technologies" in vehicle interiors, said Richard Hilgert, an analyst with Fahnestock & Co. in Detroit.

Hilgert rates Lear shares a "buy."

Southfield-based Lear wants to be more involved in the development of advanced electronics in cars and light trucks, including navigation systems, cellular phones, Internet access and voice mail, Vandenberghe said.

He also said that eight to 10 UT Automotive executives left after Lear's acquisition.

One of them, C. Scott Greer, was named Flowserve Corp.'s president and chief operating officer last week.

"It didn't work out, so we chose to go our separate ways," Vandenberghe said. He declined to elaborate.

Lear shares fell 37.5 cents yesterday to close at $49.75 on the New York Stock Exchange. They have risen 27 percent this year.

Pub Date: 6/24/99

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