The new head of Covisint vows the auto industry's e-business exchange will stay in southeast Michigan. Its current headquarters are in Southfield, north of Detroit, but there was discussion early on that Silicon Valley might be a better place for a permanent headquarters.

After an exhaustive search, Covisint's board of directors named Kevin W. English, 48, as president, chief executive officer and chairman of the Internet startup last week.

While skeptics question the timing and prospects for Covisint, Mr. English is decidedly optimistic. “This is a potentially huge company with a great business plan. The opportunity is a three-way win for the auto companies, the suppliers and the consumers, ultimately.”

Mr. English has held several positions in the technology sector, most recently as managing director of e-commerce at Credit Suisse First Boston and as CEO of, a publicly traded Internet information hub for financial news. He admits he lacks automotive experience but says he can manage the often testy relationship between automakers and suppliers because he has fresh ideas and a strong background in technology.

Mr. English describes himself as a “car guy” who owns six vehicles, all of them European. He says he looks forward to buying a Cadillac Escalade upon arrival in Detroit.

In other supplier news: General Bearing Corp. signs an agreement to increase its ownership in China's Ningbo General Bearing Co. Ltd. to 50%. McLaren Performance Technologies acquires Dart Machine Ltd., a manufacturer of precision powertrain components. Collins & Aikman Corp. acquires the automotive fabric operations of Joan Fabrics for an estimated $100 million in cash and 12 million-plus shares of Collins & Aikman common stock. Detroit Diesel Corp. and International Truck & Engine Corp. renew their Series 40 engine distribution agreement through 2003. Delphi Automotive Systems Corp. idles 630 workers in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Mississippi, Wisconsin, Alabama, and Washington as automakers continue to reduce production. Federal-Mogul Corp. paid former Chief Executive Officer Richard Snell $4.11 million in severance after he resigned in September. The amount is twice Mr. Snell's base salary of $1 million, plus two times his average annual bonus and four weeks' vacation pay. He also will receive an annual pension of $422,600. Sheldahl Inc. plans to close its Britton, SD, electronics component assembly facility by year-end. Eaton Corp. says falling first quarter earnings will result in 600 salaried job cuts over the next three months at its Fluid Power machinery division. ArvinMeritor Inc. says it will end its North American joint venture with Kayaba Industry Co. ArvinMeritor's Pulaski, TN, plant, which had been part of Arvin-Kayaba, will continue to make shocks and other ride control parts while Kayaba will reacquire its Franklin, TN, factory. ArvinMeritor says it will continue to work with Kayaba through a JV in Pamplona, Spain, and at facilities in Troy, MI, and Columbus, IN. Klaus Bleyer retires as chief executive officer of ZF Friedrichshafen AG after 12 years. A successor will be named following the company's April 24 supervisory board meeting.

Ward's Supplier Index
4/19/2001 % Chg.
Prev. Week
% Chg.
Yr. to Date
Ward's Index 83.8 6.3 0.0
DaimlerChrysler 49.0 0.7 9.4
Ford 30.3 7.5 12.5
GM 56.7 6.6 -0.8
S&P 500 1,253.7 7.5 -6.0
Note: This index is a weighted average with a 100-point base figured from 1/2/97.
For details see Jan. 22, '01 insert.
Source: Ward's.

The Ward's Supplier Index climbed 6.3% for the week ending April 19, trailing the 7.5% rise of the Standard & Poor's 500. Of the 65 companies on the Index, 50 gained.