Key Safety Systems Said Near $800 Million Sale to FountainVest

Key Safety Systems, a maker of components for the auto industry, is close to being bought by Chinese private equity firm FountainVest Partners for as much as $800 million, said people with knowledge of the matter.

The Sterling Heights, Michigan-based company, which makes safety products such as airbags and seat belts for cars, is expected to be sold for $700 million to $800 million, said the people, who asked not to be named because the talks are private.

Key Safety’s owner, New York-based buyout firm Crestview Partners LP, hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and UBS AG to look for a buyer late last year, said the people. UBS is also raising as much as $500 million in debt to help an acquirer finance the purchase, according to one of the people.

A successful deal for Key Safety would be FountainVest’s first investment in a U.S.-based company. The Shanghai-based firm, which has about $2.4 billion of assets under management, mainly invests in companies in the Greater China region. It was among a group of investors that bought Focus Media Holding Ltd. for $3.8 billion last year in the biggest buyout of a Chinese company.

Crestview, which manages about $4 billion in assets, is a middle-market buyout firm focusing on media, financial services, energy and health care, according to its website. It bought Key Safety in 2007 for an undisclosed amount. Key Safety was earlier known as Breed Technologies Inc. and was owned by Carlyle Group LP after it emerged from bankruptcy in 1999.

An external spokesman for Crestview declined to comment, while a FountainVest official didn’t immediately reply to an e-mail.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.