New York - Johnson Controls Inc., a leading supplier of seating and interiors systems to the automotive sector, predicts its revenue for the new fiscal year that began Oct. 1 would surpass analysts' expectations, helped by demand for another of its lines: auto batteries.
In a separate announcement, the firm said it had signed a share-purchase agreement to acquire Michel Thierry, a highly respected supplier of fabrics and lamination to the automotive industry based in Laroque d'Olmes, France.
On the revenue front, Johnson Controls said all three of its businesses - building efficiency, auto interiors and batteries - would benefit from the economic recovery in markets in China and the Middle East, according to a Reuters report in Automotiove News, a Crain publication. It also expects a rebound in non-residential construction in such markets to continue in 2011.
JCI, the world's eighth largest auto supplier in terms of revenue, said auto production in the US was likely to rise moderately, would be flat in Europe, and would grow in China at a slightly slower pace. It estimated China's vehicle production at 14.1 million in 2011, more than North America's 12.3 million but below Europe's 17.6 million.
Revenue in the automotive interiors segment, which makesinteriors and seats, will grow about 5 percent, it said.
The Thierry acquisition brings "strong R&D and manufacturing capabilities in Europe - primarily in France, Spain and the Czech Republic - and operations worldwide," JCI said in a 13 Oct statement.
Michel Thierry's product line includes automotive textiles for seating and for interiors and leather production for seating and interiors. Capabilities include design, development, production, weaving, knitting, lamination, embossing, screen printing, welding and laser punching. About 1700 employees are associated with the business.
JCI says that its expertise in cut and sew and Michel Thierry's expertise in fabrics meet customers' increasing demand for integrated services - from fabrics to complete seats - on a global scale.
"The combination ... is a perfect fit. I am convinced that together we create a unique value proposition for our customers," said Dr Beda Bolzenius, vice president Johnson Controls and president Automotive Experience, on signing the share purchase agreement in Paris.
Frédéric Chaussat, ceo of Michel Thierry said: "This operation marks a very significant step in Michel Thierry's history. With the support of its current shareholders, HTP, a privately-held Dutch investment company, and the French automotive fund FMEA, Michel Thierry has continued to strengthen its leading market position in a difficult industry context and will be well-armed to grow further.
"We will benefit from this step by becoming part of a strong network of expertise with considerable potential for future growth within the automotive industry," he concluded.
Johnson Controls Automotive Experience is a global leader in automotive seating, overhead systems, door and instrument panels, and interior electronics. It operates more than 200 plants worldwide supplying a wide range of products, from single components to complete interiors, for more than 200 million vehicles.
It is part of Johnson Controls, a global diversified technology and industrial leader serving customers in over 150 countries and with more than 130 000