FRANKFURT (Reuters) -- The global auto supply sector needs further consolidation, U.S. billionaire investor Wilbur Ross said, adding he was looking at potential acquisition targets, including at least one in Europe.
Ross, known for investing in distressed companies and turning them around, said on Thursday that the U.S. auto supply industry is "barely halfway through consolidation."
The sector was hit hard by the bankruptcies of General Motors Co. and Chrysler this year, and Ross said he planned to drive consolidation by taking over troubled suppliers.
He said he was not interested in buying major bankrupt U.S. auto parts makers -- such as Visteon Corp or Delphi Corp -- as a whole but said: "There might be parts that could fit into our business."
Ross is no stranger to the sector, having built the International Automotive Components Group with global revenues of $5 billion by combining the interiors business of Lear Corp and liquidated Collins & Aikman in recent years.
Visits to targets
"Our management team in Europe, we're visiting some potential acquisition targets right now. We're going into a meeting right now," Ross told reporters on the sidelines of the Frankfurt auto show.
"We are looking at businesses related to what we have right now, both interiors like instrument panels and exteriors."
Ross said he hoped that the U.S. government will renew its "Cash for Clunkers" subsidies after the $3 billion program that offered cash bonuses to consumers who traded in old vehicles for new, more fuel-efficient ones ended in August.
"I'd like to see it extended, I think it is unlikely that Congress will do so, since so much money was put into the car industry," Ross said.
The U.S. Treasury has provided nearly $65 billion in aid to facilitate the restructuring of GM and Chrysler through Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this year.
Ross also called for more efforts to help the European car sector. "It would make more sense to have one big scrappage scheme for all of Europe, as it is a pan-European problem." At present there are different programs at a national level, some of which have already expired.