By Liz White, UT contributing editorLotte, Germany-Frimo Beteiligungs GmbH has bought its major competitor Heidel Group, in a move which makes Lotte-headquartered Frimo, "the leading global supplier of production technologies for automotive interiors," according to a statement from the firm. The combined operation, which brings together both group's strengths in production technology for vehicle cockpits and inner door panels, will have annual sales of over Euro 200 million, Frimo said. "Today two strong successful companies are joining to form an even better company," said Hans-Günter Bayer of Frimo, who will be managing director and chairman of the new group. The purchase will raise the number of Frimo's global sites to 14, and includes Heidel's Viersen, Germany headquarters as well as its sites in Lotte, and in France and the US. In 2003, Heidel's 456-strong workforce generated sales of some €104 million, while Frimo's 950 employees produced sales of around €115 million. Both firms specialise in design, development and production of equipment and solutions for making vehicle interiors, including acoustic and insulation parts. Heidel's owner Rheinmetall De Tec AG said it is selling the firm in order to focus on its core business in military supply. No purchase price for the transaction was revealed. "