ZF exploring possible sale of stake in sensor firm Ibeo – sources

FRANKFURT, July 29 (Reuters) – Car parts maker ZF Friedrichshafen is exploring options for its 40% stake in sensor specialist Ibeo including a possible sale, three people close to the matter said, as it seeks to cut costs after a series of takeovers.

Ibeo, working with Deloitte, is angling for new investors after receiving a large contract from a carmaker, one of the people said. ZF would be open to selling its stake if the new investor wanted to take control of the company, the source said.

ZF declined to comment, while Ibeo and Deloitte had no immediate comment.

Using a valuation metric applied to its peers, Ibeo’s business as a whole would be expected to be worth 200 million-300 million euros ($352.7 million), including debt.

However, factoring in negative cash flows expected in around the next three years, potential buyers are likely to value it at only 100 million-200 million euros if ZF sells its stake, the people said.

Loss-making Ibeo, which has about 450 staff, develops high-precision laser sensors known as Lidar, which are used to measure a car’s surroundings and are seen as an essential technology for enabling autonomous cars.

But these are proving complex to develop, forcing suppliers to reappraise their market potential during a time of cost cuts.

ZF has been on an expansion tear, winning U.S. antitrust approval earlier this year for a $7 billion deal to buy U.S. rival Wabco.

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Saddled with debt from its takeovers and hit by a slump in demand, ZF has embarked on efforts to rein in costs. In May it announced plans to shed up to 15,000 jobs.

Separately, ZF has put its small aerotechnics unit on the block, the people added.

$1 = 0.8505 euros
Reporting by Arno Schuetze; Editing by Jan Harvey

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