It is a Franco-German marriage at the top, which tells both the fate of a dynasty of German industrialists and the transformation of the entire automotive sector. On Saturday August 14, the French automotive supplier Faurecia, expert in seats and interior, announced the takeover of its German competitor Hella, specialist in lighting systems and on-board electronics. The French group bought, in cash (3.4 billion euros) and in shares, the 60% of the equipment manufacturer owned by the family of industrialists Hueck, which sold the group founded in 1899.
To acquire the rest of the shares, Faurecia will make a takeover offer to the other shareholders in the fall. The total of the transaction is estimated at 6.7 billion euros, the French supplier said in a statement. The group thus formed will become the seventh largest automotive subcontractor in the world and the fourth in Europe, behind the Germans Bosch, Continental and ZF. The merger testifies to the major upheavals underway in the automotive subcontracting market, driven by a historic transition to zero CO emissions2 and digital.
Due to the considerable investments required for this transformation, a wave of consolidations and mergers among OEMs has long been anticipated by experts in the automotive industry. Faurecia and Hella display industrial complementarity which should make it possible to preserve production sites, the executives assured. Until the end, the suspense remained on the candidate who could convince the Hueck family to sell their precious capital.
Business in perfect health
Several buyers were in the running: the German competitors Knorr-Bremse and Mahle and the French Plastic Omnium had shown their strengths. But it was ultimately the offer from Faurecia, led by Franco-German Patrick Koller, that won the hearts of the Huecks. As is often the case in Germany when it comes to the sale of family businesses, it is the arguments of values and the maintenance of jobs, alongside industrial logic, which have prevailed over strictly financial arguments.
According to the daily Handelsblatt, investment funds were ready to spend 1 billion more than Faurecia to buy the Hella group. “We looked for the best possible investor, for the sake of the employees and executives of the company, explained Jürgen Behrend, guarantor of the interests of the family holding company, to the Handelsblatt dated August 16. It is for us a question of responsibility, the price was secondary in our decision. During the negotiations, it became clear to us that we wanted a European solution. “
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