Crowne Is Considering $800 Million Windshield Wiper Unit Sale

(Bloomberg) -- Auto parts manufacturer Crowne Group LLC is considering an $800 million sale of windshield-wiper blade maker Trico Group, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The closely held conglomerate has held talks with investment banks about a sale of its Trico unit, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly. A final decision hasn’t been made and Crowne could elect to keep the business.

A spokesman for Cleveland-based Crowne didn’t respond to email and telephone messages seeking comment.

Crowne bought Rochester, Michigan-based Trico from the private equity firm Kohlberg & Co. for an undisclosed sum in 2014, with about $455 million in debt arranged by investment bank Jefferies Financial Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The company was renamed Trico Group in February, according to its website.

Trico, founded originally as Tri-Continental Corp. in 1917, introduced the first mass produced, commercially available windshield wiper blade, Rain Rubber, that year, according to its website. The company now makes windshield wiper systems, wiper blades and refills, selling them as original equipment and to aftermarket suppliers.

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