Magna Adds Getrag in $2.7B Deal to Beef Up Transmission Business

NEW YORK (The Deal) -- Magna International (MGA) said Thursday that it plans to acquire Getrag Group of Germany in a €2.45 billion ($2.67 billion) deal that would establish the Canadian auto parts giant as one of the top manufacturers of vehicle transmissions.

Terms of the deal call for Aurora, Ont.-based Magna International to pay €1.75 billion in cash for privately held Getrag Group and assume about €700 million in debt and pension liabilities. Untergruppenbach-based Getrag Group, in business since 1935, operates from 23 plants worldwide, employing 13,500 and generating 2014 sales of about €1.7 billion, not including revenue from non-consolidated joint ventures.

Magna International has identified expansion of the powertrain business "as a strategic priority," calling Getrag Group "an excellent fit," Chief Executive Donald J. Walker said in a statement.

The German manufacturer has a strong presence in China, including joint ventures with two local companies, and is an expert at dual-clutch transmissions, hybrid transmissions and other technologies designed to decrease emissions and add to fuel economy.

"Getrag is a technology leader in a product area that we believe is well-positioned to benefit from industry trends that are driving increased vehicle fuel efficiency and reduced emissions," Walker said.

The executive, during a conference call with investors Thursday, said that transmissions are highly engineered products, making them less vulnerable to commoditization.

The deal is the second recent large trans-Atlantic auto parts transaction, following ZF Friedrichshafen's $13.5 billion acquisition of TRW Automotive Holdings (TRW). ZF Friedrichshafen is a major supplier of transmissions, and many in the industry predicted that its rivals would look to bulk up following its deal for TRW Automotive Holdings.

Magna International, like most auto suppliers, has been shifting its strategy away from being a maker of a variety of components to a specialist in certain areas where it can develop global scale and stave off competition from emerging markets. The company this year shed most of its interiors operations to Spain's Grupo Antolin for $525 million.

Worldwide, Magna International operates from more than 300 manufacturing locations and 87 engineering and sales centers in 29 countries, employing more than 130,000.

Perella Weinberg Partners advised Getrag Group and its family ownership on the transaction.

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