By absorbing German Helly, Forvia, a former Faurecia, is trying to diversify from its historic businesses

By absorbing German Helly, Forvia, a former Faurecia, is trying to diversify from its historic businesses


Absolute black. Then the space lights up and reveals the road, an unexpected vision in this industrial building. The track first stretches for a few tens of meters, then further and further, more and more comfortable, more and more accurately depending on the technologies used and generations of headlights (halogen, xenon, LED). Here we are at the “Lichtkanal”, the Helly light tunnel, a German automotive supplier who was taken over by the French Faurecia at the beginning of the year, which changed its name to Forvia on this occasion.

Also read: Article reserved for our subscribers Automotive industry: With the acquisition of Helly, French Faurecia becomes the seventh largest subcontractor in the industry

Lichtkanal is a unique research center in Europe, located in West Germany, in Lippstadt, the quiet town where Hella is based. Four hundred meters of a road tunnel designed to test the brand’s innovations in automotive lighting, such as the ability of headlights to project an image of ice flakes on the asphalt in front of the car when sensors detect icing. This equipment symbolizes what Hella is: a leading manufacturer of headlights and electronic components, a company bought for 5.7 billion euros in August 2021 and which is now fully integrated into the new group.

In a few days, on Wednesday 1ehm June Patrick Koller, CEO of Forvia, will present this gem to his shareholders at its general meeting. And he will try to convince them that his strategy is the right one. Ex-Faurecia is playing big with this purchase. The leading French supplier to the automotive industry, now the seventh in the world, broke the bank in order to finally be able to diversify significantly outside its historic stores.

Diversification

“Yann de la Brière, Patrick Koller’s predecessor, put Faurecia back on its feet by reorganizing its activities into three main areas: exhaust systems, seats and interiors, in other words the dashboard, says the consultant. The first is extremely profitable, but after the disappearance of the internal combustion engine, it has no future. The other two will not disappear, but have limited growth prospects. »

Mr. Koller, who became Faurecia’s chief in July 2016, therefore continued to diversify. He experienced the adventures of hydrogen by running into ultra-safe tanks, as in his place in Bavans (Doubs), which traditionally manufactures decontamination equipment for heat engines, and joined forces three years ago. Symbio. Above all, the boss multiplied the acquisitions in a kind of headless hurry to break out of his traditional “business” and give according to his expression “Software at all levels”. It will be the French start-up Parrot (infotainment) for 100 million euros, the German SAS (complex electronic modules for dashboards) for 200 million, the Japanese Clarion (automotive electronics) paid 1 billion euros.

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