A year after offering it for bid, automotive supplier LucasVarity plc has sold its plastic lighting systems plant near SÃo Paulo, Brazil, to Cooper Industries Inc.
The 122,000-square-foot plant, part of London-based LucasVarity's electrical and electronics division, injection molds lenses and lamp housings from polycarbonate and other thermoplastics. Terms of the Dec. 30 deal were not disclosed.
The plant, located in Diadema, Brazil, recorded more than $16 million in 1997 sales, said Terry Graessle, vice president for sales and marketing with St. Louis-based Cooper Automotive. He spoke in a telephone interview from Cooper's Troy, Mich., office.
The Diadema facility, known as Lucas Electrical Systems do Brasil Ltda., had been targeted for sale in December 1996 as part of the company's restructuring. That followed a merger between Lucas Industries of London and Varity Corp. of Buffalo, N.Y., said LucasVarity spokeswoman Juli Ballesteros.
At the time, the firm decided to cast off 13 noncore businesses to lower costs. The electrical and electronics division in Birmingham, England, makes products such as column switches, heating and air conditioning units and power-assisted steering parts. The plant was the division's only original-equipment lighting parts facility, Ballesteros said.
Cooper, a division of Houston-based Cooper Industries Inc., also makes windshield wiper systems, ignition products and sockets, connectors and switches.
``Our customers were moving into that region,'' Graessle said. ``We needed a facility to support our lighting products and open the opportunity for the production and distribution of other [Cooper] products.''
The plant, which employs about 275, makes lighting assemblies primarily for General Motors Corp. and Honda Motor Co. Ltd. Cooper also is working with Chrysler Corp. to bring several lighting contracts to Brazil, Graessle said. Cooper operates six lighting plants in North America.
The purchase continues Cooper's shift into original equipment manufacturing. About 40 percent of the firm's business now comes from OEM products, compared to 30 percent four or five years ago, Graessle said. The firm also owns Champion spark plugs, Anco wiper blade assemblies, Wagner lighting products and other brands.
The Diadema plant, which started in 1972, injection molds headlamp and signal lamp assemblies using PC, acrylic, ABS, an ABS/PC blend and polyphenylene sulfide resins, said Abelardo Levy, sales director for Lucas Electrical Systems do Brasil.
The plant also does some metal stampings and has design and engineering facilities on site. Light sources for the lamps will be shipped from Cooper plants in North America.
Privately held Cooper Industries recorded about $5.3 billion in 1996 sales. The automotive division accounts for 35 percent of that total.
Plastics News Brazilian correspondent Sandra Mara Costa contributed to this article.