We can expect Autoliv Inc., world's largest maker of automotive airbags and seat belts, to enter more acquisitions in the near future. CEO Jan Carlson said that the company has about $1 billion to spend in Japan and in growing segments such as electronic accident prevention. Carlson said last Monday that Autoliv is “better equipped” to handle more acquisitions and that in fact, it is hoping “to do more of them.”
He boasted that the company’s current balance sheet is its strongest. He talked about Autoliv’s interest to buy companies in Japan, where its 20% market share in the country is lower than elsewhere. Autoliv has a 35% share globally, including about 40% in Europe and North America.
Carlson didn’t identify the potential sellers that the company has been meeting with. Sales of seat belts and airbags have picked up once again as global car production is now recovering from the recession. IHS Automotive forecasts that about 70.3 million cars will be built in 2010, up from 57.4 million last year. It also predicts that production would exceed 91 million in 2015.
Outside of Japan, Autoliv is primarily going after acquisitions of companies making “active-safety” products, including radar and other electronic equipment that help prevent accidents.
Carlson said that this segment's volume is many times smaller than the market for seat belts and airbags but it believes that its growth pace will be “much faster.” This year, Autoliv is expected to sell nearly $100 million worth of active-security products. [via autonews - sub. required]