Carlyle, Cerberus, Platinum eye Cooper Standard, according to sources

NEW YORK ― Carlyle Group, Cerberus Capital Management and Platinum Equity are among the private equity firms interested in buying U.S. auto parts maker Cooper Standard , but tough financing markets make a deal uncertain, people familiar with the matter said.

Cooper Standard, which has hired JPMorgan Chase and Lazard Ltd to explore a sale, is in the second round of the auction, which has been moving slowly in a volatile financing market, one of the people said.

While financing remains relatively cheap for companies with strong credit ratings, buyout deals typically need leveraged loans and high-yield bonds — the riskier form of lending that carries some of the highest interest rates and often is the first financing to be withdrawn when credit tightens.

Representatives for Carlyle, Cerberus and Platinum Equity all declined to comment. Cooper was not immediately available for comment.

Wall Street banks are becoming more selective about what financing deals they commit to or are stiffening lending terms, making buyout deals like Cooper Standard more costly for buyers and therefore limiting their ability to pay.

The company emerged from bankruptcy in May 2010 under the control of a handful of hedge funds, including Silver Point Capital and Oak Hill Advisors. The Novi, Michigan-based company, which makes body sealing systems and fluid handling systems for the automotive industry, could be valued at more than $1.5 billion, several people told Reuters previously.

Meanwhile, Carlyle is also bidding for another auto parts supplier TI Automotive, which competes with Cooper Standard in the fluid system segment and has been considering a sale since early this year, people familiar with the matter said on Sept. 29. Bain Capital and London-based buyout firm Pamplona Capital Management are the other remaining bidders for TI Automotive, the people said at that time.

TI Automotive and Cooper Standard are the world’s two largest suppliers of systems that control, sense and deliver fluids and vapors in vehicles. But TI has greater exposure to the fast-growing Asian markets, drawing roughly a quarter of its revenue from China and other Asian markets.

Cooper-Standard says it is considering strategic alternatives

NOVI, Mich. ― U.S. auto parts supplier Cooper Standard Holdings Inc. said on Thursday it has retained investment bankers to assist it in exploring strategic alternatives, including a sale of the company or an initial public offering of its common shares.

Interested parties have put in initial indications for Cooper Standard, with the second round likely to start in mid-September after Labor Day, Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing a source.

Cooper Standard Holdings, which came out of bankruptcy in May of 2010 under the control of a handful of hedge funds, including Silver Point Capital and Oak Hill Advisors, has an enterprise value of more than $1.1 billion, according to Reuters data.

On Wednesday, Reuters reported that the company was looking for a buyer and has hired bankers to advise on the process, according to people familiar with the matter. JPMorgan Chase and Lazard Ltd. are running the sale, according to the people.

The company, had grown through several acquisitions, but filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2009 when auto sales plunged to decade lows amid the global recession.