Brembo considers startup deals as software plays bigger role in brakes



Brembo’s logo can be seen at its headquarters in Bergamo, Italy on October 7, 2019. REUTERS / Flavio Lo Scalzo

MILAN, Oct. 25 (Reuters) – Brembo (BRBI.MI) may consider buying tech startups to increase the software content of its high-end brakes, chief executive Daniele Schillaci said as the Italian company unveiled its latest braking system.

The company, whose customers include Ferrari (RACE.MI), Tesla (TSLA.O) and several Formula 1 teams, introduced “Sensify,” a pioneering braking system that can operate independently on each of the four wheels of a vehicle.

It includes a digital “brain” that uses the data to tailor braking to personal driving styles and changing road conditions.

Schillaci, an automotive industry veteran with previous stints at Nissan Motor (7201.T) and Toyota (7203.T), said mechanics were still predominant in the Sensify system, over software content.

“But soon, mechanical and software content will soon be equivalent and by the end of the decade, software will become predominant in brake systems,” he said.

“That’s why we’re including technology companies among our potential M&A targets, not necessarily large companies but also startups that might be of interest to us,” said Schillaci.

Brembo agreed last year to buy SBS Friction, a Danish manufacturer of motorcycle brake pads, and Spanish motorcycle brake maker J. Juan.

Schillaci said Brembo was not looking to make acquisitions just to increase revenue.

“We see mergers and acquisitions as a way to make our core business thrive. Recent agreements show that we want to be vertically integrated into what we do,” he said.

By the end of this year, the company will open its first high-tech lab in Silicon Valley, California to accelerate its digitization strategy. Read more

“We will be in California to acquire know-how on the latest artificial intelligence technologies, but also to look around us, if we see that there are startups that catch our attention,” said Schillaci.

Brembo shareholders have approved a loyalty share program that would allow its controlling family to retain this position as the company seeks acquisitions.

Schillaci said Brembo was in talks with an unidentified large automaker to supply Sensify to its models from 2024, while adding that he expected the system to become a “standard feature”, at least for premium platforms, by 2030.

All components of the Sensify system are designed in-house, Schillaci said, adding that Brembo is finalizing partnerships with external suppliers “to complement our know-how and accelerate the increase in production if necessary”.

Reporting by Giulio Piovaccari Editing by Mark Potter

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