DETROIT Jan 16 Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross
wants International Automotive Components, the auto supplier he
controls, to go public to get access to cheaper capital, but he
added he was in no rush for an initial public offering.
Ross, speaking ahead of a speech at the Automotive News
World Congress in Detroit, said the investment banks will tell
him when the markets desire an IPO by Southfield, Michigan-based
"We don't need the money," he told Reuters. "It's really a
question of when we could get a reasonable valuation, but in
general I think interiors are a very capital intensive business
and if you're capital intensive and growing you want to get
cheap access to capital and that ultimately means public
He said it was a question of when the stock markets would be
Ross, known for consolidating out-of-favor assets in areas
such as autos, said he currently has no interest in selling IAC,
but he said another option to take the $4.7 billion company
public would be through a "backdoor merger" where it acquires a
publicly traded company.
In 2011 sources said Ross had hired Bank of America and
JPMorgan Chase to help take IAC public in an IPO. The company
makes auto interior parts such as door and trim systems,
instrument panels, floors and headliner systems.
Ross wants IAC to continue its growth from $614 million in
revenue when he started in 2006 by combining the business of the
former Collins & Aikman and the interiors business of Lear and
through a string of acquisitions.
Lear Corp owns a stake of about 17 percent in IAC,
according to an IAC spokesman.
IAC has 24,000 employees at 90 locations in 20 countries and
Ross said it is buying more companies in China and looking at
making additions in Africa and Russia.
"There's room for a $10 billion company in our space," he
said. "There is none right now."
Ross said he was surprised how well U.S. consumer spending
held up in December, but he expects unemployment to remain high
in the near term.
Helping the environment for auto sales, however, are the
rising age of U.S. cars - a record 11-plus years on average -
and easier access to financing for consumers. U.S. new-car sales
hit 14.4 million vehicles last year and are expected to rise to
as much as 15.5 million vehicles in 2013.
He agreed, however, that the German economy was "on the
brink" of a recession, and the real question was how much worse
Europe would get and how long the downturn in that region would
Ross said one concern he has as the U.S. economy improves is
IAC's relationship with its organized labor workforce, which
accepted concessions during the downturn. He expects the unions
may seek greater job security as labor agreements are
renegotiated. He added that IAC was not in any labor talks
He also said raw material prices have "calmed down," which
was welcome as IAC had previously been hurt by rising oil prices
that pressured resin costs for the company.