The arrival of Japanese parts makers in the United States in the 1980s brought air-conditioning and heating supplier Calsonic to Shelbyville, Tenn., a town known primarily as the center for Tennessee Walking Horse festivals. Calsonic became Shelbyville’s biggest employer and established its North American corporate headquarters there. The local events arena was even renamed Calsonic Arena. It was a rare coup for a small Southern town. But early last year, the supplier — now named Calsonic Kansei Corp. — notified officials that it planned to move its headquarters out of town unless the Shelbyville Industrial Development Board agreed to an $ 8 million property tax abatement to offset the expense of badly needed renovations to the company’s aging office building. The board made an undisclosed counteroffer, but 2018 closed with no verdict on the relocation. Thickening the plot, Calsonic was purchased in 2017 by U.S. investment firm KKR & Co. for $ 4.5 billion. And last October, as the two sides considered the issue, KKR-backed Calsonic Kansei paid $ 7.1 billion to acquire Fiat Chrysler Automobiles parts unit Magneti Marelli. Marelli has a major employee base 50 miles away in Pulaski, Tenn.
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