ZF withdraws from joint venture with Bosch

September 15, 2014 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Automotive supplier Robert Bosch GmbH has announced to acquire 100% of ZF Lenksysteme (ZFLS), a company focusing on steering systems for cars and commercial vehicles. The company hitherto is a 50:50 joint venture of Bosch and automotive mechatronics provider ZF Friedrichshafen. With the move, ZF Friedrichshafen apparently readies for a potential takeover of TRW Automotive.

With 13.000 employees in eight countries, ZFLS achieved sales of € 4.1 billion in 2013. In terms of technology, the company headquartered in Schwäbisch Gmünd (Germany) is committed to the development of energy-efficient, highly automated, connected vehicles. At present, the company achieves 60% of its total sales with electric steering systems which contribute to the overall fuel efficiency of the vehicle equipped. A typical 2 litre engine can thus save up to 0.8 litres of gasoline per hundred kilometres, the company claims.

According to a Bosch press release, the parent companies already signed a contract that sells ZF Friedrichhafen's shares to Bosch, provided the antitrust authorities give a nod. As usual in such cases, the sales price was not communicated. Bosch praised its new acquisition, saying the takeover would strengthen its position in electric automotive systems. This may be true, but it is well possible that the move has been initiated by ZF Friedrichshafen: There is increasing evidence that the company prepares for a takeover of US based technology supplier TRW Automotive. With the withdrawal from ZFLS, ZF Friedrichshafen could try to avoid that antitrust authorities ban this move. According to market researchers, the acquisition of TRW would bring ZF Friedrichshafen at level with larger competitors such as Bosch as well as the axis of Continental and Schaeffler AG.

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