(Bloomberg) -- A Bosnian family’s closely held conglomerate that has clashed with industrial giants including Volkswagen AG is linked to a new investor in German engine manufacturer Deutz AG, according to people familiar with the matter.
Current and former representatives for Prevent Group, a company led by the Hastor family, are linked to a Dutch investment firm that took an almost 4% stake in Deutz last month, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public. Prevent has been in legal conflicts with VW and Daimler AG and made an ill-fated attempt to take control of German car-seat maker Grammer AG until 2018.
Senior officials for Deutz and Ardan Livvey BV, the Dutch investment firm, have started to discuss the company’s business prospects, the people said. Representatives for Prevent and Deutz declined to comment. A representative for Ardan Livvey said the company isn’t part of Prevent but declined to comment on any business ties.
The discussions could be an initial step toward Deutz being engulfed in an acrimonious campaign similar to the power struggle at Grammer three years ago. Prevent built up a stake through two investment vehicles and exerted pressure on management to push for strategic changes. The wrangling ultimately ended with Grammer selling to China’s Ningbo Jifeng Auto Parts Co.
Prevent is led by the family of businessman Nijaz Hastor, who spent decades expanding the group’s activities across the auto industry and beyond. After Hastor’s sons took over operations, the conglomerate adopted a more aggressive business style and waged disputes with customers in South America and Europe. VW was forced to temporarily stop production at several factories in 2016 because of a because of a contract dispute.
“Despite the recent ongoing improvement, Deutz’s operational and financial performance still significantly lags that of its direct peers, presenting an unmatched opportunity for value creation to shareholders,” Ardan Livvey said in a statement on June 3. “A more proactive engagement from the current senior management of the company should contribute to the transformation of Deutz into a more profitable, higher growth and more financially sound business.”
Deutz said in a statement it is “receptive to all constructive suggestions” regarding its future.
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