Johnson Controls Bids $1.25B For Visteon Unit

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Johnson Controls Inc. has offered $1.25 billion for the automotive interiors and electronics business at Visteon Corp., saying the acquisition would expand its presence in China.

Johnson Controls, which builds car interiors, batteries and other components, said Friday it sent a letter to Visteon expressing interest in the acquisition.

"This acquisition would significantly expand our automotive interior technologies and capabilities," Johnson Controls CEO Stephen Roell said in a statement. "Importantly, it would broaden and deepen our global automotive customer relationships."

A Visteon spokesman did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment. Visteon, which is based in Van Buren Township, Mich., is a major parts supplier for Ford Motor Co. and is operating under bankruptcy protection.

Johnson Controls, headquartered in Milwaukee, said the acquisition would be a good fit within its automotive parts business. It would also give it a bigger foothold in China, where Visteon is a key a player and where Johnson Controls has 23 joint ventures and 40 manufacturing facilities.

If its bid is successful, Johnson Controls said its revenue from its auto parts business in China could exceed $7 billion in 2011.

Johnson Controls said it first approached Visteon about buying its interiors and electronics business in January and again on May 7.

The company said it has retained the law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz as well as JPMorgan Securities to help with its bid.

Visteon filed for bankruptcy protection in May 2009, as automakers were slashing production and shuttering factories to cope with reduced demand for new vehicles. Automakers General Motors and Chrysler themselves filed for bankruptcy protection months later.

In April, Visteon posted first-quarter net income of $233 million, sharply improved form the prior-year period. Last week, the judge presiding over its bankruptcy granted the company more time to win support for its reorganization plan.

Shares of Johnson Controls rose 91 cents, or 3.3 percent, to $28.59 in midday trading Friday.

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