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Lear to acquire German supplier in quest for comfort seating dominance

Lear Corp. is acquiring a German automotive supplier of temperature-controlled seats and steering wheels for nearly $150 million, beefing up its comfort seating capabilities.

The suburban Detroit seating and electronics supplier agreed to buy Gruendau-Rothenbergen, Germany-based I.G. Bauerhin in a deal expected to be finalized in the next six to nine months, according to a Friday statement.

Lear is also purchasing Romania-based software supplier Thagora Technology SRL for an undisclosed sum, giving it scalable industry 4.0 software to help reduce scrap and lower energy usage during production, the company announced Thursday.

The I.G. Bauerhin deal follows Lear’s acquisition last year of Kongsberg Automotive, a $200 million play for increased vertical integration and capturing more vehicle content, including massage seating, lumbar support, heating and ventilation.

“Combining Lear’s industry-leading seating expertise and Kongsberg’s products and capabilities with IGB’s cutting-edge technology will allow us to accelerate the commercialization of efficient, high-performance seating systems that are aligned with the key priorities of our OEM customers and consumers alike,” Lear CEO Ray Scott said in the statement.

IGB has 7,000 employees at nine manufacturing plants around the world, including one in Windsor, Canada. The company produces thermal seating for a large range of luxury, high volume and electric vehicles by nearly all global OEMs, with revenue last year of $215 million, according to the company.

Other seating suppliers are making similar moves to win interior business. Most recently, Gentherm Inc. said it is acquiring the automotive business of German supplier Alfmeier Präzision SE, and its lumbar and massage seating technology, for more than $187.5 million.

“I am confident that our employees will thrive in Lear’s thermal comfort solutions business and continue to drive growth and innovation,” Josef Hilmer, CEO of IGB, said in the release.

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