Johnson Controls Likely to Pass on Visteon Interiors Unit, CEO Roell Says

Johnson Controls Inc. (JCI), the largest U.S. auto supplier, said it doesn’t expect to bid for the interiors unit rival Visteon Corp. is said to be selling.

Johnson Controls, which tried to buy Visteon’s interiors and electronics units before that company emerged from bankruptcy in 2010, won’t bid on the interiors business because of the complexity of the unit’s joint ventures, Stephen Roell, chief executive officer of Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls, said today in an interview at Bloomberg’s New York headquarters.

“We’re not in active conversations at all with Visteon,” Roell said. “We’re not in discussions. I don’t think, because of the circumstances, that that will be something that we’ll look at.”

Visteon, a spinoff of Ford Motor Co. (F), is shopping its lighting and interiors units to pare low-margin revenue and focus operations on Asia, five people familiar with the sale process said last month. Shanghai-based Yanfeng Visteon Automotive Trim Systems Co., Visteon’s joint venture with SAIC Motor Corp., is the most attractive part of the interiors business, Roell said.

Jim Fisher, a Visteon spokesman, declined comment on the terms of its joint venture with SAIC.

Visteon in June 2010 rejected a $1.25 billion offer from Johnson Controls for its interiors and electronics units, saying it would hurt Visteon’s creditors.

Integrating Acquisitions

Johnson Controls bought three companies for more than $1.2 billion to boost its automotive seating business since October 2010: Michel Thierry SA, a maker of seat fabric; C Rob Hammerstein Group, a maker of metal seat frames; and Keiper and Recaro Automotive.

Roell said today the company is integrating those companies into its operations and probably won’t make auto-related acquisitions in the near-term.

Johnson Controls received 49 percent of its $40.8 billion in revenue in its fiscal 2011 from its auto-parts unit, which makes seats and instrument panels. Johnson Controls also makes car batteries and systems to manage building climate and security.

Johnson Controls rose 0.5 percent to $32.62 at the close in New York. The shares have slid 15 percent this year. Visteon fell 1 percent to $57.60.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Clothier in New York at mclothier@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jamie Butters at jbutters@bloomberg.net

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