Private equity firm CX Partners is in advanced talks to acquire a majority stake in Chennai-based auto component maker Comstar Automotive Technologies Pvt. Ltd for about Rs400-450 crore, two people with direct knowledge of the discussions said.

Comstar Automotive, a manufacturer of starter motors, starter motor kits and alternators for automotive applications, began operations in 1999 as a subsidiary of Visteon Corp., a unit of Ford in India.

CX Partners has mandated Kotak Mahindra Capital Co. Ltd to advise on the sale process, said one of the two persons cited above on the condition of anonymity.

Until 2007, Comstar was owned by American car maker Ford Motor and was then part of an entity known as Visteon Powertrain. In 2007, Ford sold this auto parts business to Hong Kong-based PE firm Argyle Street Management and the Chandaria family. The Chandaria family holds its investment through two entities of holding company Leticia Investments—Comstar Mauritius and Comstar Holding. The two firms hold equal stakes in the component maker.

An email sent to a spokesperson for Kotak Mahindra Capital went unanswered. Comstar declined to comment. An email sent to CX Partners did not elicit a response. A spokesperson contacted by phone declined to comment.

Comstar, which designs and manufactures starting and charging systems for passenger cars and commercial vehicles, was earlier in talks with Mitsubishi Motors, a Japanese automotive manufacturer, to sell a controlling stake but the talks did not fructify.

Comstar has two manufacturing facilities, one in Chennai, and the other at Tecumseh in the US. It employs more than 900 people, according to the company website. The company has an installed capacity of over 3.8 million starter motors and 1 million alternators in India and 0.8 million starter motors in North America. It has clients across Europe, Africa, South America and Asia which include large automakers such as Ford, Volvo, Tata Motors, Ashok Leyland, Renault Nissan, Jaguar, Aston Martin and Mazda, as per the website.

Auto components has historically been an attractive investment destination for private equity investors. Last year, PE firm Actis sold its 2011 investment in Endurance Technologies Ltd through the auto components firm’s initial public offering. Another PE firm, Kedaara Capital, last year exited its two-year-old investment in auto component maker Bill Forge in a Rs1,300 crore sale to Mahindra CIE. Kedaara acquired a 50% stake in Bill Forge for around Rs300 crore in 2014.

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