Crestview makes automotive investment

The New York-based firm has decided to appoint Ford Motor Company veteran Sir Nick Scheele as the chairman of the board of Key Safety Systems.

New York-based private equity firm Crestview Partners has bought Key Safety Systems, a developer of automotive safety systems, for an undisclosed amount.

Key Safety Systems’ sales for 2006 totaled more than $1 billion.

Sir Nick Scheele will become the company’s chairman of the board. Scheele is the former president and chief operations officer of automotive giant Ford Motor Company, as well as the former chairman of Ford Europe.

Key Safety Systems invented airbags and crash sensors in the 1960s. It has about 150 customers in more than 300 vehicle models and across 60 automotive brands worldwide, the company said in a statement. Its current production line includes airbags, seat belts, steering wheels and position and movement sensors. Based in Sterling Heights, Michigan, it has regional headquarters in Reunheim, Germany and in Shanghai, China. It also has manufacturing, technical and sales offices in 12 countries.

Former Goldman Sachs investment bankers Barry Volpert and Tom Murphy founded Crestview in 2004. The firm has about $1.5 billion in capital under management. The firm agreed to buy a 90 percent stake in Munder Capital Management from Detroit bank Comerica for about $302 million last August. That transaction included $232 million in cash.