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JCI to sell headliner, sun visor business to private equity firm

By: David Sedgwick
AUTOMOTIVE NEWS

February 19, 2014

Johnson Controls Inc. plans to sell its headliner and sun visor business to an affiliate of Atlas Holdings LLC, a private equity firm based in Greenwich, Conn.

Johnson Controls expects to close the deal by April 30, the Glendale, Wis.-based supplier said today. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

In a written statement, Johnson Controls said the sale of those two product lines "will improve the overall competitiveness of our interiors business, improve our profitability and enable us to further strengthen and focus on our core interiors business."

Last year, Johnson Controls had announced its desire to sell off its unprofitable interiors unit and also its electronics division. Since then, the company has sold its electronics operations to Gentex Corp. and Visteon Corp.

The sale leaves Johnson Controls with a portion of its interiors unit, which also makes door panels, instrument panels and floor consoles. The unit generates about $4.2 billion in annual revenue.

In a January interview, Beda Bolzenius, president of Johnson Controls' seating operation, identified seats and batteries as the company's core automotive units. Bolzenius said the entire interiors industry was unprofitable -- and that suppliers needed to consolidate.

"Nobody is happy, and nobody is making the necessary return on capital to finance growth," Bolzenius told Automotive News. "Over-capacity is an issue."

A spokesman for Atlas declined to comment on the matter earlier today. Atlas specializes in investing in distressed companies, and then turning them around.

Sean Gagnier contributed to this report.