May 12, 2016 / 4:25 PM / a year ago

Bosch set to launch sale of starter motors unit: sources

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A Bosch Service sign is reflected in a car door while a product expert for diagnostics equipment of German auto parts supplier Robert Bosch analyses a car in a workout garage in Plochingen near Stuttgart April 15, 2013.Michaela Rehle

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German car parts maker Robert Bosch [ROBG.UL] is moving ahead with the sale of its starter motors and generators business, two sources familiar with the matter said.

The company is working with Morgan Stanley (MS.N) on the sale and will send out information packages to prospective buyers early in the second half of the year, one of the sources said.

Bosch announced in June 2015 that it is seeking a partner for the business, which is active in a market that has been struggling with overcapacity.

The business has sales of more than 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion), employs around 6,500 staff and may be valued at 500-700 million euros in a sale, people familiar with the industry said.

Bosch's works council chief Alfred Loeckle told Reuters that the unit will be legally separated from Bosch, effective Aug. 1, following a deal Bosch's management recently struck with labor representatives.

"It has not yet been decided whether the unit will be sold or if starters and generators will partially or completely stay with Bosch," he said, adding that the unit, which used to be loss-making, is now turning a profit.

"We have been assured that it will not be sold to an unreliable buyer but that the best option will be sought for the business and the employees."

A company spokeswoman said a legal separation or carve-out of the unit was planned for the second half of the year but declined to give further details.

Bosch has a track record of seeking support from its employees for big strategic moves but that did not prevent about2000 staff from protesting against the planned sale last year.

Bosch's starter and generators unit has caught the eye of several private equity groups.

Among others, Triton, KPS, Bain and Centerbridge are expected to take part in the bidding, the people familiar with the matter said, adding that some smaller Asian rivals seeking to expand might also be interested.

The buyout groups declined to comment or were not immediately available for comment.

The unit competes with Denso (6902.T), Valeo (VLOF.PA), Delphi and BAIC. However, car industry bankers expect few of these will figure in the auction.

Reporting by Arno Schuetze and Ilona Wissenbach; Editing by Greg Mahlich

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