August 3, 2017 / 8:03 AM / 17 days ago

Car supplier ZF's H1 margin improves on TRW synergies

FRANKFURT, Aug 3 (Reuters) - German auto supplier ZF Friedrichshafen AG improved its profit margin in the first half of 2017 thanks to synergy gains and improved business in the wake of its takeover of U.S.-based rival TRW, the company said on Thursday.

The unlisted auto supplier said its adjusted earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) rose 9 percent to 1.2 billion euros ($1.42 billion), with sales up 2.7 percent to 18.3 billion euros.

Its EBIT margin was 6.6 percent, up from 6.3 percent in the first half of last year, which ZF said was despite higher spending on autonomous and electric cars technology.

"We were able to achieve this by boosting operating performance and realizing synergies resulting from the acquisition of TRW," Chief Financial Officer Konstantin Sauer said in a statement, without being more specific.

ZF is snapping up rival suppliers which can help prepare it for a new era of electromobility and autonomous driving.

Since 2015, ZF has bought rival TRW Automotive, taken a 40 percent stake in German lidar maker Ibeo Automotive and made an unsuccessful $515 million bid for Swedish brake systems group Haldex.

Since buying TRW for $13.5 billion, ZF has sought to pay down its debt, which now stands at 7.6 billion euros.

$1 = 0.8444 euros Reporting by Edward Taylor; Editing by Maria Sheahan

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