October 17, 2017 / 6:23 PM / a month ago

Chinese 'white knight' to hike stake in Grammer: source

MUNICH (Reuters) - China’s Ningbo Jifeng Auto Parts Co (603997.SS) wants to increase its stake in German automotive interiors maker Grammer AG (GMMG.DE) to more than 25 percent, a source with knowledge of the situation told Reuters on Tuesday.

Grammer has been at the center of a power struggle between Bosnia’s Hastor family and Ningbo Jifeng, which each holding about 20 percent in the company.

Ningbo Jifeng wants to increase its stake by buying shares on the open market, the source said. Earlier on Tuesday, Ningbo Jifeng said in a regulatory filing that it planned to increase its stake in the next 12 months, without giving details.

Grammer’s management has welcomed Ningbo Jifeng, another supplier of vehicle interior components, as a potential white knight in its conflict with Hastor.

Last year a contract dispute between Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) and two of its suppliers controlled by the Hastor family, CarTrim and ES Automobilguss, briefly halted production at more than half of the carmaker’s German plants.

Cascade Investment International GmbH, a company controlled by the Hastor family, has accused Grammer’s management of market manipulation to help Ningbo Jifeng build a stake.

Grammer has denied the allegation but said the company would see business suffer if the Bosnians increased their influence.

Earlier this month, shares in Grammer tumbled after it said it expects orders to fall well short of its annual target as the power struggle discouraged car manufacturers from placing orders.

($1 = 0.8427 euros)

Reporting by Irene Preisinger and Alexander Huebner, writing by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Adrian Croft

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