Detroit, Michigan – Chinese auto part suppliers, along with the largest global European suppliers, are considered most likely to buy economically-distressed competitors to form giant global companies, according to a new study.

The report was released by global management consulting firm PRTM, which studied more than 350 automotive suppliers to determine the winners and losers in the consolidation of the automotive supply industry.

Chinese and the largest global European suppliers scored highest on PRTM’s global buyer scale, indicating that they will likely buy other suppliers that are distressed as a result of the global industry downturn.

Companies on the global top-ten buyer list include Weichai Power Company, a state-owned diesel-engine manufacturer in Weifang, China, and automobile manufacturer Guangzhou Automobile Industry Group, a highly profitable company with 51 per cent government ownership. Guangzhou is also a joint venture partner of both Toyota and Honda in China.

Denso Corporation, Toyota Boshoku Corporation and Aisin Seiki Company are also on the top-ten buyer list, along with European suppliers such as ZF Friedrichshafen AG, SKF Group, and BASF AG.

Only one American supplier, PPG Industries of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, appears in the top ten. It is a glass and paint manufacturer that serves the auto industry, but is also highly diversified into several other industry sectors. PRTM predicts that several of the remaining 31 largest global North American suppliers are most likely headed for bankruptcy or buyout. Earlier this year, Lear, Metaldyne and Visteon filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and PRTM predicts that several others, including American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings, could follow suit.

In North America, the risk of failure is higher for the 31 largest global 100 suppliers than the next-largest 30 suppliers. “This is, in part, because the large, global North American suppliers have been under more intense scrutiny from auto manufacturers, and several of them are tied to Chrysler and General Motors,” said Dietmar Ostermann, author of the study.

The intensity of bankruptcies and consolidation is expected to be strongest in the chassis and electrical/electronics fields. Chassis systems usually require intense capital investment and are more affected by volume declines, whereas electronics systems represent the future of the automobile industry, and many suppliers are trying to add electronic capabilities to their respective automotive systems.

The study covered 357 global suppliers from North America, Europe, South America, China, India, Japan and South Korea and was conducted between February and July 2009.

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