New York mogul bought bankrupt Detroit stake

A New York investment mogul has bought a stake in a Detroit-area auto supplier as part of a plan to create the world's largest auto supply company.

Wilbur L. Ross Jr. has bought a majority of the $750 million (Ђ612.6 million) in bank debt of Collins & Aikman, a bankrupt maker of interior parts. That debt could be converted to stock and a significant ownership of the company when it emerges from bankruptcy, the AP informs.

His firm, WL Ross, already has made inroads into the auto industry. In addition to the investment in Collins & Aikman, the company has majority ownership of two small Japanese auto suppliers and 25 percent ownership of France-based Oxford Automotive, which makes springs and structural systems.

Ross, 67, told the Detroit Free Press for a story published Friday that he is interested in buying the troubled Delphi Corp., the nation's largest auto supplier, if it is put up for sale or files for bankruptcy, which it has said it might do.

Neither Delphi nor Collins & Aikman would comment on ownership bids.

The two companies, based in the Detroit suburb of Troy, alone account for more than $30 billion (Ђ24.5 billion) in annual sales and 200,000 employees.

Creating such a company would allow Ross more clout in negotiating prices with car companies, which have pressured suppliers for lower prices over the past 15 years.

Ross is known for piecing together a set of troubled steel companies into International Steel Group. He said his firm has $4.5 billion (Ђ3.68 billion) available to invest and could access even more as it tries to buy a piece of the auto industry.

"I don't think size is any particular problem," Ross said. "We're willing to put a lot of effort and a lot of capital into this consolidation program."

On photo: New York investment mogul Wilbur L. Ross Jr.

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