Britax International plc is in the process of selling off its worldwide vehicle rearview mirror business to Reitter & Schefenacker GmbH. Britax's surprise announcement that it is negotiating with the Stuttgart, Germany-based automotive components producer comes soon after Britax acquired leading South Korean mirror supplier Poong Jeong of Seoul. Britax has mirror operations in Europe, the Americas and Asia Pacific, and recently opened a new plant in Valencia, Spain.
The talks were revealed in a terse, two-sentence statement prompted by media comment, and Britax said it would make a further announcement "as and when appropriate."
Britax expressed concern about price pressure and global overcapacity in the auto parts business, when it reported its 1999 results.
Warwick, England-based Britax is still closely involved with the automotive sector through its child car seat business and its specialized vehicle systems business, which makes emergency vehicle equipment.
But the company now gets about 60 percent of its sales from its higher-margin aircraft interiors division.
Analysts predict Britax would get about 200 million ($300 million) for the mirror business, which it could use for fresh acquisitions in its remaining divisions.
The proposed transaction would bring together two leading component companies.
Reitter & Schefenacker, a privately owned company, is a leading international manufacturer of vehicle parts, including mirrors, lighting products and sound systems, with operations in Germany, Hungary and the United States.
Reitter & Schefenacker (USA) LP is based in Rochester Hills, Mich., and runs a production plant at Selmer, Tenn. The unit makes interior and exterior car mirrors and taillights for customers such as General Motors Corp., DaimlerChrysler AG and Volkswagen AG.
Britax's Rear Vision Systems Division is based in Porchester, England, where its British subsidiary, Britax Wingard Ltd., has a plant. Other European operations include Britax Geco SA in Paris and the new Spanish unit in Valencia.
In the United States the company operates as Britax Vision Systems (North America) Inc., with a production facility in Marysville, Mich.
The company also has operations in Taree and Adelaide, Australia; Nagoya, Japan; New Delhi, India; and Seoul.