Hundreds of West Midlands jobs are at the centre of a £8.5 billion global automotive parts takeover which will see a slice of Birmingham’s former world-famous Lucas empire fall into German hands.
Car parts maker ZF Friedrichshafen has reached a deal to buy US-based TRW Automotive Holdings Corporation, creating an automotive supply giant with huge combined annual sales of more than £30 billion.
The deal will see TRW Automotive sites at Stratford Road, Shirley, College Road, Perry Barr, and Nuneaton swallowed up by the Baden-Wurtemberg-based engineering group, which traces its history to the First World War.
The TRW sites in the West Midlands were previously part of the LucasVarity group, which was sold to the Americans in February 1999 in a multi-billion pound deal.
The new takeover sees the marriage of the descendants of two huge industrial empires which over the course of the last century provided arms to Germany and the Allies during both World Wars.
In the Second World War, the ZF group supplied engines for the Third Reich’s infamous Tiger tanks while Lucas was engaged by Rover to work on the combustion and fuel systems for the Whittle jet engine project, making the burners.
Birmingham historian Professor Carl Chinn said: “It is important in this centenary of the outbreak of the First World War to realise how far the UK and Germany have come to reach a stage where we are now partners and not enemies.
“I would hope to see investment in Birmingham and the creation of skilled long-term jobs.”
Up until the early 1970s, Lucas was the principal supplier to British manufacturers such as BSA, Norton and Triumph of magnetos, dynamos, alternators, switches and other electrical components.