NEW YORK (The Deal) -- Autoparts manufacturer TRW Automotive Holdings (TRW) said Thursday it has retained Goldman Sachs & Co. as a financial adviser after receiving a non-binding acquisition proposal from an unnamed suitor.
Livonia, Mich.-based TRW said that the company is in the process of evaluating that proposal, as well as other strategic options, but gave no timetable for the process or offered other details. The disclosure sent shares of the company up 9%, or $8.50, to $99.90 apiece in afternoon trading.
The disclosure comes hours after reports surfaced that TRW had been approached by German industrial ZF Friedrichshafen AG about a deal that Bloomberg said could be worth upwards of $12 billion. ZF, which is controlled by the Zeppelin Foundation, declined comment, and TRW did not offer any details about the potential bid.
TRW is a safety specialist focused on the manufacture of air bags and crash sensors as well as braking and steering systems, suspensions and electronics with operations in 24 countries. The company in the twelve months ending March 28 generated Ebitda of $1.79 billion on sales of $17.66 billion.
Among TRW's largest customers is another German company, Volkswagen AG.
ZF meanwhile is primarily a maker of transmissions and axles. The company reported $23 billion in sales in 2013, with its parts on vehicles sold by Audi AG and BMW AG among other automakers.
A deal between ZF and TRW would create one of the world's largest auto suppliers. Analysts in recent years have predicted that as automakers attempt to stretch common vehicle platforms globally while dealing with new technologies a handful of large suppliers capable of taking on advanced R&D challenges would emerge, replacing what has traditionally been a highly-fragmented market.
Though it is unclear whether Goldman will be able to create a bidding war for TRW, an auto industry source mentioned two other large air bag suppliers, one-time General Motors Co. unit Delphi Automotive Plc and Autoliv Inc. of Sweden, as potential suitors for the company.
TRW Automotive was spun out of industrial conglomerate TRW Inc. in 2002 as its parent was being acquired by Northrop Grumman Corp. and subsequently sold to Blackstone Group LP for $4.7 billion. Blackstone took it public in 2004, and has slowly been selling down its ownership.
The private equity firm in February sold 9.2 million TRW Automotive, dropping its ownership to 8.6% from 16.3%.