Chinese private equity firm FountainVest Partners is close to purchasing Key Safety Systems, a Detroit-based manufacturer of airbags, seat belts, and other car safety components for as much as $800 million, according to Bloomberg. The company that currently owns Key Safety Systems—Crestview Partners LP—first expressed interest in selling the car safety component maker in October 2013. At that time, Crestview hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and UBS AG to help look for a buyer.
Acquiring Key Safety Systems would give FountainVest access to contracts with Ford Motor Co., Chrysler Group LLC, and General Motors Co. FountainVest, which took part in the $3.8 billion 2013 buyout of Focus Media Holding Ltd., has roughly $2.4 billion of assets under management.
If successful, the deal would be FountainVest’s first investment in the United States. It would join a long list of other Chinese firms investing in the automobile industry abroad. For example, China’s Wanxiang Group purchased the assets of luxury hybrid manufacturer Fisker Automotive Holdings Inc. in February and automaker Dongfeng invested $1.1 billion for a 14 percent stake in French automaker Peugeot during the same month. And in March, a subsidiary of China FAW Group Corp formed a joint venture with EcoMotors Inc.—a manufacturer of environmentally-friendly engines backed by Bill Gates.