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UPDATE 1-Visteon revamps climate control unit, offers pension buyouts
* Visteon to sell climate control unit to Korean JV
* JV seen worth more than $2 bln; Visteon has 70 pct stake
* Visteon eyes interiors unit sale, pension buyouts
By Deepa Seetharaman
DETROIT, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Visteon Corp said it will sell its climate control operations to its Korean joint venture and offer lump-sum pension buyouts to nearly 10,000 retirees, as the auto parts supplier looks to streamline its structure and improve profitability.
The U.S. company also said it is looking to exit the auto interiors industry by hiving off its standalone interiors unit as well as its 50-percent stake in a Chinese joint venture, Yanfeng Visteon.
Visteon, which exited bankruptcy protection about two years ago, has faced pressure to break up the company from some investors and board members who argue its presence in too many businesses is hurting its market value. Earlier this year, the former parts affiliate of Ford Motor Co sold its lighting operations.
Interim Chief Executive Tim Leuliette said on Wednesday the latest moves would help boost Visteon's profit margins and shed a brighter light on the company's overall direction.
"We're in the business of making money by making car parts," Leuliette said at a presentation for investors. "We need to strengthen this company and we're in the process of doing so."
Visteon plans to sell its climate business, which supplies air conditioning and heating systems, to its Korean joint venture, Halla Climate Control for cash.
The joint venture will be renamed the Halla-Visteon Climate Group and Visteon will retain a 70 percent stake in the venture. J.P. Morgan estimates that Halla-Visteon, which will be the world's second-largest climate company, is worth about $2.1 billion.
Visteon is offering buyouts to nearly 10,000 of 20,000 U.S. based retirees receiving a pension check. The plan will be funded with pension plan assets. Retirees will be given a choice to take a one-time cash payment or continue receiving checks.
"This is part of the evolution of the next stage I call Visteon 3.0," Leuliette said. "2.0 was during the bankruptcy process."
Visteon also announced its intention to sell its interiors unit, which makes instrument panels and door trims. In an investor slide presentation, Visteon said it would exit its Yanfeng Visteon stake "at the right value at the right time."
Visteon is in talks to sell the interiors business now, but "there's no gun to our head," Leuliette said.
"We know the business will be worth more when Europe starts to rebound," he said. "If someone wants to pay us now for that kind of value, we're willing to accept that. In the meantime, we're running the business."
It will take the European auto industry another 18 months to "get legs," Leuliette said.
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