Spanish autoparts maker Cie Automotive has confirmed the sale of Mexican steel tyre unit Iochpe for EUR2.6m. The move came as the Basque Country-based firm reported 2010 operating profits soared 66% to EUR193.3m.

In a regulatory statement, Cie said it sold the division to an undisclosed buyer. Iochpe makes as many as 3m tyres a year at its factory in Tlalnepantla in the Mexico state where Mexico City is located.

Cie earlier this week reported its 2010 results citing a strong performance of its emerging markets business for the earnings hike. Net profit surged 273% to EUR41.4m while sale increased 38% to EUR1.6bn.

Cie said its emerging markets business grew at a "superior" pace than the sector's average and that this, combined with a recovery in the North American market and better than expected trading in Europe, helped lift its fortunes.

The firm said it hopes to double its 2010 net profit in the next three years, mainly by expanding its presence in Brasil, Mexico, Eastern Europe and Asia where it already has a heavy presence. The firm added it hopes to make "value-added" acquisition and focus its research activities on making products to help reduce vehicles' weight and CO2 emissions.

Cie's European competitors are also keen to grow in the emerging markets. French rival Faurecia last month signed a joint venture with Ningbo Huazhong Plastic Products to grow in China's burgeoning components market.

To boost its cash coffers, Cie last month listed 25% of its Brazilian unit Autometal, raising EUR270m.