Bosch starter motors unit attracts private equity, Chinese interest, say sources: Reuters

Belgian plant in German car parts maker Robert Bosch [ROBG.UL] has attracted interest from private equity firms as well as Chinese groups for its starter motor and generator business, people close to the matter said.

Bosch announced in June 2015 that it is seeking a partner for the business, in a market that has been struggling with overcapacity.

Buyout groups Advent, Bain, Triton, Centerbridge and KPS are expected to make tentative offers by a Monday deadline, alongside Chinese companies, the people said.

The business has sales of more than 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion), employs around 6,500 staff and may be valued at more than 500 million euros in a potential sale, the people added.

The unit has earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of about 80 million euros, but that is expected to decline to 60 million euros, one of the people added.

The unit, which makes starter motors and generators for passenger cars and commercial vehicles – an area that is much less technology-driven than other parts or Bosch’s portfolio – is under pressure from competition in lower-cost countries.

“The winning bid will not only depend on price, but also on the willingness of a buyer to cooperate with employees,” one of the sources said.

Bosch has a track record of seeking support from its employees for big strategic moves but about 2,000 staff protested against the planned sale last year.

Bosch and the buyout firms declined to comment.