LDM Technologies Inc. has thrust itself into the European automotive market by buying the last of eight plastic molding plants put on the block in February by Aeroquip-Vickers Inc.
LDM, a Tier 1 auto supplier based in Auburn Hills, Mich., purchased the 150,900-square-foot plant in Beienheim, Germany, on Dec. 2. The sale price was not disclosed for the facility, which employs about 250 and recorded sales of $33 million last year.
The acquisition marks LDM's entree into the European market. The plant makes injection molded interior and under-the-hood functional components — products that are a key part of LDM's current operations — and includes a painting area.
``It establishes a good foothold for us in Europe,'' said Chief Financial Officer Gary Borushko.
LDM had operated 18 plants, all of them in North America, though several of its engineers are stationed in Europe, Borushko said.
``We can use the facility as a springboard as the need arises to become more global. Because many European programs are engineered and designed in Germany, we'll be better able to coordinate our worldwide activities from a base there,'' he said.
The German facility also will let LDM work more closely with Ford Motor Co. on its Escort ``world car'' program, according to Borushko.
The molder currently supplies several plastic parts for the vehicle, which is engineered and designed in Germany. Ford plans to launch the car next year.
The Beienheim plant also supplies parts to General Motors Corp.'s Adam Opel AG division and does some work with Volkswagen AG and Audi AG. Equipment details were undisclosed.
Maumee, Ohio-based Aeroquip-Vickers announced Feb. 20 that it would jettison its automotive interior trim operations. Plans called for the company to sell or close eight interior molding and assembly plants, which were operating at an aggregate loss, by September. The facilities, all but two of which were in North America, recorded about $130 million in 1996 sales.
The company said it wished to concentrate on its core automotive fluid connector business for air conditioning, power steering and oil cooling systems.
``This essentially completes the sale or closure of the eight facilities,'' said Aeroquip-Vickers spokesman Richard Rump. ``We now can focus on other core areas.''
Beienheim was among the largest and healthiest in sales volume of the eight targeted plants. Another German factory on the list, a 345,000-square-foot facility in Roedelheim, Germany, closed in August, Rump said.
Aeroquip-Vickers took a special charge of $30 million for 1997's first quarter, mainly for severance and lease-termination costs. A significant portion of that charge came from exiting its two German operations, the Ohio firm said earlier this year.
In May, LDM purchased Aeroquip-Vickers' Kendallville, Ind., air-vent assembly plant. The 74,600-square-foot plant, which recorded $14 million in 1996 sales, molds heating and air conditioning registers and louvers.
Three other interior trim plants, which generated a combined $30 million in 1996 sales, were sold in March to Novi, Mich.-based Key Plastics Inc.
Aeroquip-Vickers closed its interior trim operations in Spring Arbor, Mich., and Mooresville, N.C., and still is attempting to sell equipment and the Spring Arbor building, Rump said.
LDM ranked eighth among North American injection molders last year with $350 million in related sales, according to Plastics News' listing of top molders. In October, the firm also purchased Kenco Plastics Inc., a blow molder of air-management parts and fluid reservoirs based in Farmington Hills, Mich.