Saft Says It Will Oppose Johnson Controls Breakup of Battery Venture

Saft Groupe SA (SAFT) said it will oppose Johnson Controls Inc. (JCI)’s legal action aimed at dissolving the joint venture they share which develops and makes hybrid battery systems.

Johnson Controls began legal action in the Delaware Chancery Court to dissolve the joint venture yesterday. Saft will oppose the filing as “it sees no legitimate grounds for the dissolution,” it said today in a statement. The French company dropped as much as 17 percent in Paris today.

Johnson Controls and Saft formed the venture in 2006 and in 2008 opened a lithium-ion factory for hybrid vehicles. The two partners fell out over the size and strategic direction of the venture, Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls said in its statement yesterday.

Saft, based in Bagnolet, France, said it doesn’t want the venture to target “markets where Saft is already strongly positioned and enjoys a rapid development.”

Saft fell as much as 5.06 euros to 24.7 euros, its sharpest fall since March 2008, and traded at 26.14 euros at 12:44 p.m. local time, valuing the company at 656.8 million euros ($938 million).

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