Consolidate Continues To Be The Keyword In Automotive

By June TRW Inc.'s $7 billion announced acquisition of Britain's LucasVarity PLC, which would create a nearly $19 billion automotive supplier, is expected to be complete. And presumably by midyear, in the wake of Ford Motor Co.'s bid for the auto-production part of Sweden's AB Volvo, there could be further consolidation among the world's remaining automakers. With the exception of Germany's Volkswagen AG, all of Europe's big name carmakers could become takeover targets. France's Regie Nationale des Usines Renault SA and Peugeot SA (PSA), along with Italy's Fiat SpA, have been hunting for powerful allies. Meanwhile VW, with a production level of 4 million vehicles a year, is above the manufacturing threshold for maintaining independence. Renault, PSA, and Fiat are not.

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