Webasto AG of Germany has become a major player in the North American sunroof market with its purchase of Magna International Inc.'s 50 percent stake in Webasto Sunroofs Inc. of Rochester Hills, Michigan.
The purchase ends a 16-year joint venture between Webasto and Magna of Aurora, Ontario, Canada.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Webasto Sunroofs has more than $250 million in annual sales and more than 1,000 employees in North America. Eighty-five percent of the company's business is with automakers; the rest is aftermarket.
'The vision is that we could, in the next five years ... be up to $500 million,' said Franz-Josef Kortum, chairman of Webasto AG. 'Roofs have been getting more popular on the option list of our customers. We see good opportunities in North America.'
Sunroof industry watchers don't dispute Webasto AG's claim of being the world's largest sunroof supplier.
Analyst Greg Janicki also puts Webasto Sunroofs as No. 1 in North America, followed by ArvinMeritor, ASC Inc. and Inalfa Roof Systems USA. 'Those four companies have basically 90 percent of the market,' said Janicki, vice president of CSM Worldwide, a research firm in Northville, Michigan.
Fred Olson, Webasto Sunroofs Inc.'s new president and CEO, said the company plans to focus its growth on hard- and soft-top convertibles as well as the entire roof unit, known as full-roof systems. 'It's a natural development in the marketplace,' he said. Olson said that full-roof systems would be the area with the most growth potential.
But convertibles will also provide Webasto Sunroofs with ample opportunity. 'The hardtop, which hasn't been around for a long time, will find a nice place in the market,' said Olson.
Kortum called the joint venture with Magna successful and the split amicable. He would not comment specifically on the reasons behind the separation.
But he did say that the deal was limited to sunroofs. Said Kortum: 'We can add products that weren't covered in the joint venture's portfolio.'