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Autoliv eyes separating passive safety and electronics units

By Graeme Roberts | 14 September 2017

Autoliv is conducting a strategic review of its operating structure with the intent to create separate companies from its current passive safety and electronics business segments.

"The intent is to create two publicly traded companies capable of addressing two distinct, growing markets with leading product offerings and thereby create additional value for shareholders, customers and other stakeholders as compared to the current, combined structure of Autoliv," the supplier said in a statement.

"The strategic review process will evaluate this and other options. Although the strategic review has been initiated there is no guarantee that the review will result in any transaction, including a separation or listing of the businesses."

"The current operational model has served Autoliv very well, creating tremendous value for its shareholders and other stakeholders since the initial listing on the Stockholm stock exchange in 1994. Over the last decade our electronics business has grown and matured next to our world leading passive aafety business and today we have two distinct, successful businesses, each with its own unique business drivers. We believe it's time to let them both individually maximise their potential," said Jan Carlson, chairman, president and CEO of Autoliv. 

Electronics consists of active safety products (automotive radars, cameras with driver assist systems, night vision systems and positioning systems), restraint control and sensing and brake systems. Its market (particularly in active safety towards autonomous driving) is characterised by a high pace of change and growth which requires an agile innovation and partnering model as well as significant up front investments to capture future growth. It is estimated that the total available market for safety electronics will grow from around US$20bn in 2017 to more than $40bn in 2025. The objective for electronics is to capture a significant portion of that growth while continuously improving the profitability of the unit. 

Electronics is one of the leaders in active safety today with one of the broadest and most advanced product portfolios in the industry, Autoliv claims. Over the last two years electronics has been positioned to be a major player in automotive electronics, including the competitiveness of the product line, becoming a qualified supplier with a high number of OEMs for active safety and entering into important partnerships with companies like Volvo Cars (Zenuity), NVIDIA and LiDAR experts Velodyne for the next generation of highly automated cars. In 2016, electronics sales were $2.216bn, with a target to reach $3bn in 2020. 

Passive safety consists of airbag systems, steering wheels and seatbelts. Its market is characterised by stable growth and incremental innovation which requires the highest requirements on quality and manufacturing efficiency. It is estimated that the total available market for will grow from around $20bn in 2017 to around $25bn in 2025. During the same period passive safety is expected to outgrow the market and light vehicle production, which is expected to grow by close to 2% annually. The objective is to remain the market and innovation leader while maintaining a high level of quality and capital efficiency and further improving its margin performance. 

Passive safety is the global market leader, according to Autoliv, with a market share of 39% in 2016. Over the last 2-1/2 years, its share of order intake has been around 50% or more indicating significant market share expansion ahead. Standalone, passive safety would have increased freedom to further optimise its performance. Its 2016 sales were $7.9bn, with a target to reach more than $10bn in 2020. 

If the separation takes place, the process is estimated to take around one year under most scenarios.

Autoliv has been reporting the units as two separate segments since the beginning of 2016.