Auto Service World
News   September 21, 2005   by Auto Service World

Auto Parts Business Attracting Attention of Turnaround Specialist

Wilbur Ross stepped up to a podium at the Waldorf Astoria ballroom and told attendees that international consolidation will continue, and that it’s too early to tell if he’ll buy Visteon.
Speaking at the Dow Jones Private Equity Conference, Ross, who has successfully rolled up steel companies and is planning an IPO of a coal firm, said that he didn’t want to get involved with Visteon discussions right now as Ford is still in the process of buying plants from its former captive electronics supplier.
He also declined to say if he thought Ford and GM would file for bankruptcy. If they did, he added, they would likely continue to operate as so many airlines have under Chapter 11.
Still, he had comments for the industry, saying that the auto parts business is a highly cyclical, high-cost business that “shouldn’t be highly leveraged.” Currently, the industry has a large number of part suppliers selling to a small number of auto makers “with no pricing power" and auto parts makers need to be the low-cost producer to fend off competition, and more willing to sell parts overseas, he said.
In a wide ranging talk, Ross also said that the U.S. would benefit from replacing China-bashing with rules that made business more favourable for domestic suppliers, and that a national healthcare system would benefit U.S. companies.
He pointed out that nearly all industrialized countries provide the service to their people. Policymakers should also do away with the corporate tax structure in favour of a less costly export rebate system employed elsewhere around the world, he said.
He estimated that combined, the tax changes and healthcare system could help U.S. exporters gain about 30% in pricing power over their competitors.

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