Joint Venture to Create Auto Interiors Company

MILWAUKEE -- Wisconsin-based Johnson Controls (JCI) is teaming up with a Chinese company to create the world's largest maker of automotive interiors, in a deal announced Sunday.

The joint venture between Johnson Controls and Yanfeng Automotive Trim Systems will be based in Shanghai. The new company will make instrument panels, interior systems, door panels and floor consoles, and is expected to have $7.5 billion in annual sales.

Alex Molinaroli, Johnson Controls' chairman and CEO, said in Sunday's statement that the combined company will be well positioned for sustained growth around the world.

"This also aligns with Johnson Controls' corporate commitment to China, which is increasingly becoming a major center for the global automotive industry," he said.

Yanfeng, a subsidiary of Huayu Automotive Systems, will have a 70% stake in the new company. Johnson Controls will have a 30% stake. The transaction is subject to limited conditions, and is expected to close in the first half of next year.

Shares of Johnson Controls closed Friday at $44.78. The stock has traded in a 52-week range of $34.40 to $52.50.

Johnson Controls, whose headquarters are in Milwaukee, has 170,000 employees. The company also makes car seats and batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles.

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