TOKYO -- Japanese materials maker Asahi Kasei announced Thursday that it will buy U.S.-based Sage Automotive Interiors for $1.06 billion (119 billion yen), including debt.
This deal aims to help Asahi Kasei, which makes artificial leather for car interiors, to create a complete supply chain from raw materials to finished products. High-quality automotive textiles are in high demand and Asahi Kasei expects its sales to rise after the acquisition.
The Tokyo-based manufacturer will make use of Sage's contacts with automakers worldwide to expand its automotive products business. It will also use Sage's facilities to fuel its global expansion.
Sage processes artificial leather and other materials, fitting them to car interiors such as seats. It is the world's top maker of car seat fabrics, excluding leather and artificial leather. It has a reputation for high quality and good design, and counts German carmakers Daimler and BMW among its clients. Asahi Kasei supplies artificial leather to Sage.
Talks began in October 2017 between Asahi Kasei and Clearlake Sage Holdings, a unit of U.S. private equity specialist Clearlake Capital Group. The deal will see Asahi Kasei buy the U.S. fund's entire stake in Sage. It follows Asahi Kasei's acquisition of two other U.S. companies, medical device maker Zoll Medical for about 180 billion yen in 2012, and Polypore International, a manufacturer of separators used in lithium-ion batteries, for around 260 billion yen in 2015.
Asahi Kasei holds the top share in both synthetic rubber, used to make fuel-efficient tires, and separators for lithium-ion batteries. The company has positioned itself to take advantage of growth in the auto sector, forecasting 300 billion yen sales from the business in fiscal 2025, triple the figure for fiscal 2015.
Asahi Kasei believes the development of autonomous and connected vehicles will increase demand for innovative interior car designs. It opened a research center in Germany last year to help come up with them.