ZF completes acquisition of Michigan-based TRW

David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau

German auto supplier ZF Friedrichshafen said Friday it has completed its acquisition of one of the largest U.S. auto suppliers, Livonia-based TRW Automotive Holdings Corp., in a $12.4 billion deal.

The all-cash purchase announced in September is another sign that the auto supplier sector may be facing a new round of consolidation — and the new company is one of the three largest auto suppliers in the world.

The combined company will have sales of $41 billion annually and more than 130,000 employees.

ZF said Metro Detroit would remain a “major business center for the company.”

With 2013 sales of $17.4 billion, TRW Automotive has operations in 24 countries, including 12 in the U.S., and employs 67,000 people worldwide — along with about 11,000 contract workers.

TRW employs about 3,500 in Michigan at 15 facilities, which includes the company’s global headquarters in Livonia. Electronic braking systems and commercial steering linkage components are built in the state. Most of the Michigan jobs are related to product development and testing.

TRW will become a separate business division of ZF called Active & Passive Safety Technology.

Both companies have invested heavily into expanding their production footprint over recent years in Asia. Both have major production sites and strong R&D operations in China: ZF is expanding its R&D Center in Shanghai to 800 employees, which is a 30-minute drive from TRW’s new R&D facility. The TRW facility will house 1,200 employees, making it TRW’s largest R&D site worldwide.

Volkswagen AG is TRW’s biggest customer, accounting for about 25 percent of total sales, followed by Ford Motor Co. at 18.5 percent, according to its annual report. General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC are TRW’s next-biggest customers, each accounting for about 10 percent of revenue.