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Affinia filter unit for sale, may attract German buyer, say sources-Reuters

(Reuters) – U.S. firm Affinia‘s auto filter unit has been put up for sale by its private equity owner and may attract German peers Mann + Hummel or Mahle in a potential $1.3 billion deal, two people familiar with the transaction said.

Private equity company Cypress Group has asked investment bank Baird to find a buyer for Affinia’s filtration business, which last year posted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of $156 million, the sources said.

Tentative bids for the filtration business are due next month and may value it at more than eight to nine times core earnings, the sources said, adding it could also attract the interest of private equity firms.

Affinia and Cypress were not immediately available for comment. Baird, Mann + Hummel and Mahle declined to comment.

Bosch, which some industry experts also see as a potential buyer, said it was not interested in the asset.

Any deal would be the third within a year in which a U.S. auto supplier is bought by a German peer, following ZF’s takeover of TRW and Mahle’s acquisition of Delphi’s air conditioning unit.

Affinia is the former replacement parts business of car parts maker Dana, which sold the unit to Cypress and co-investor OMERS in 2004 for $1.1 billion.

The filtration business, which specialises in after market oil, fuel, air and coolant filters, posted 2014 sales of $967 million.

Affinia’s South America unit, with annual revenues of $430 million, is being sold in a separate process. Last year, Affinia’s chassis components business was sold to Federal-Mogul .

The whole group had net debt of $766 million at the end of 2014.