BRUGHERIO, Italy (Dec. 14)—Manuli Rubber Industries S.p.A. has formed an alliance with Japan's Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd. to develop automotive air conditioning hoses and metal fittings, based on common specifications. The companies said they also plan to expand their collaboration in the automotive sector in the future. The alliance between Manuli Automotive International S.A. and Yokohama Hydex Co., the Japanese firm's automotive and hydraulic hose unit, responds to global sourcing needs in the automotive sector, the firms said. The move "allows the two companies to have a partner respectively in Europe and in Japan, strengthening their capability of supplying products internationally," Manuli said. Yokohama Hydex, which had net sales of $178 million in 2001, has two plants in Japan making metal fittings and assembling them with hoses produced by Yokohama Rubber. The firm also has a hose fittings and assembly plant in the U.S. and an assembly plant in Thailand. With net sales of $323 million in 2001, Manuli Automotive claims to be the Europe's leading supplier of automotive metal fittings and hose assemblies. The Milan, Italy-based firm has plants in Italy, France, Holland, Poland, Spain and Brazil.