An Indian automotive group with global ambitions has taken over an award-winning West Midland components manufacturer.
Mumbai-based Mahindra & Mahindra has acquired 98.6 per cent of the equity of Stokes Forgings, which has two factories in Dudley and one in Walsall, for an undisclosed sum.
The largest supplier of automotive castings in the UK, Stokes makes a wide range of components, including powertrain, chassis, suspension, axle and door parts.
The company, which dates back to 1908 and which employs about 240 people, counts Land Rover, Ford and Jaguar among its customers.
It also does work for Koyo Bearings of Japan, which in turn supplies Toyota, General Motors and DaimlerChrysler.
It picked up business after the 2002 crash of UEF Bromsgrove, the descendent of the former Garringtons forgings business.
Stokes had combined sales of £27 million last year, M&M said in a statement to the Mumbai Stock Exchange yesterday.
Its success in bucking the outsourcing trend by selling products to China resulted in Stokes taking one of the top honours in last year's award scheme run by Accelerate, the West Midland body that supports the automotive supply chain.
M&M is part of the £1.5 billion a year Mahindra Group and is India's market leader in off-road vehicles and tractors, employing about 11,500 people.
The group is also active in the technology, engineering, marketing and distribution sectors and has a joint venture with BT which provides software solutions and services.
Analysts said that M&M needed a presence in the European forgings industry as part of its global expansion ambitions.
They also said the group would channel some of the business it acquires along with Stokes to its low cost manufacturing base in India.
Stokes, however, said yesterday there would be no threat to jobs from the deal and the Black Country operations would continue to be run by the existing senior management team lead by managing director Ian Young.
M&M managing director Anand Mahindra said: "We believe the Stokes acquisition demonstrates our commitment to build a world-class business that serves its global customers."
Mahindra said that Stokes would become part of its engineering and automotive components division, Mahindra Systems and Automotive Technologies (MSAT), and that it planned to grow the business.
MSAT president Hemant Luthra said: "Indian customers will get access to world class technology."
Outgoing Stokes chairman Esther Horwood, a member of the Jennings family that previously controlled the business, said: "Our faith in M&M and their promise to uphold the Stokes traditions and hold the company in trust for future generations was instrumental in our decision to hand over the reins to Anand and his excellent team."
Founded in 1908 as John Stokes & Sons, the company made items for horse and cart transport.
The Jennings family bought a substantial holding in 1938 and during the Second World War the company installed and operated a forging plant producing components for the Admiralty.
The Stokes family sold its remaining stake to the Jennings family in 1947.