US: Nexteer leads Chinese investment foray into auto industry image

China, the world’s second largest economy and the biggest single car market, has long heralded the jump of its powerful automotive companies from local players to global powerhouses by tapping into the US market.

But, even if the financial power of the companies peaked not long ago, the automakers and industry connected suppliers failed to trigger the massive exodus towards the first global economy and second best auto market. There are exceptions, though – such as Nexteer, the global automotive supplier from Saginaw, US, led by the Frenchman Laurent Bresson and with a Chinese investor majority.

“The Nexteer story is followed really closely — extremely closely, I would say, by every stakeholder, by the community, by the Chinese government for sure, the potential Chinese investors — whether public or private — everybody is watching this closely,” says Bresson.

“The Chinese auto suppliers need to have research and development and technology that they don’t have, and that is bringing them in the US,” adds James Cambridge, a partner with the Detroit law firm of Kerr Russell.

Before 2010, Nexteer was a subsidiary of Delphi, but it was since acquired by Pacific Century Motorsin 2010 and has become the highest-profile buyout of a US automotive parts maker by the Chinese.