And now there are three.
With his Feb. 20 bid to buy the interiors and closures unit of auto supplier Delphi Corp., Ira Rennert has joined fellow billionaire investors Wilbur Ross and Carl Icahn as the newest and most visible players out to buy into the North American auto interiors supply business.
If the sale goes ahead, Rennert's Renco Group Inc. will own a major supplier to General Motors Corp. Its operations include an injection molding plant in Adrian, Mich., that produces millions of instrument panel parts and systems for the automaker each year.
Delphi on Feb. 20 named Renco as the lead bidder for the interiors business, worth $1.3 billion annually. The New York-based firm still must win approval for the purchase through bankruptcy court, which will include an auction that could bring in bids from other players.
Troy, Mich.-based Delphi has operated under Chapter 11 protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Detroit since October 2005, and wants to sell interiors and other noncore holdings as part of its restructuring.
The interiors and closures operation includes plants in the U.S., Mexico, Austria, Germany, China and South Korea. In North America, the bulk of its injection molding takes place at the 380-employee Adrian plant, which turns out interior parts for assembly at other Delphi sites.
Delphi still will have a major interest in plastics production through its Packard Electric Systems, which includes injection molding in Warren and Cortland, Ohio, and in its heating and air- conditioning operations.
Renco has a stake in several companies, including AM General LLC, U.S. Magnesium LLC, Doe Run Co. and Unarco Material Handling Inc. It currently does not own any plastics operations, although it is a supplier to the auto industry.
Rennert stands to join fellow industrialists Ross and Icahn in a reshaped auto industry. Ross created International Automotive Components Group, which already has purchased interior parts makers in Europe, South America and Japan and has a pact to buy part of Lear Corp.
Icahn's American Real Estate Partners LP plans to buy the rest of Lear, which includes its seating and electronics business.
Meanwhile, more major automotive interiors holdings are poised to change hands. Much of Collins & Aikman Corp. and interior production facilities previous owned by Visteon Corp. - now part of Ford Motor Co.-controlled Automotive Components Holdings LLC - also are up for sale.
Neither Delphi nor Renco have set an estimated date to complete the sale. Details of the purchase will remain confidential until the firms can file a master sale plan with the court.