Autoliv Inc. (ALV), the world's largest seat-belt and airbag maker which has suffered losses the past two quarters, is likely to return to making a profit this year, the company's chief executive told Dow Jones Newswires Monday.

Jan Carlson, in a telephone interview, said he thinks the first quarter was "the low point" for the global auto industry, that Autoliv is likely to lay off more workers, and that the European Investment Bank will grant it a EUR225 million loan within weeks.

"I think you can count on us returning to make a quarterly (operating) profit in the second half of this year," he said.

Carlson said he had just returned to Stockholm from the U.S., where he met with General Motors Corp.'s (GMGMQ) 's leadership Friday. GM's bankruptcy filing will barely affect Autoliv, he said, assuming the auto maker succeeds with its planned restructuring.

"GM doesn't owe us any money, they have paid in full. They have handled the bankruptcy process professionally, which means that for us as an important supplier we won't have to suffer losses," he said.

GM's restructuring, including offloading its Adam Opel GmbH and Saab Automobile AB units, will likely mean at the most $15 million in reduced sales for Autoliv over the next year, Carlson said. In 2008, it had sales of $6.47 billion.

Autoliv, a Swedish-American company, is maintaining its forecast from the first quarter that it's likely to experience a sales drop, including negative currency effects, of between 40% and 45% in the second quarter from a year earlier, he said.

He noted that 46 million cars were produced globally in the first quarter, and said he expects about 53 million cars to be produced in the second as well as the third quarter, followed by 58 million in the fourth quarter.

"The first quarter was the low point, the way things look now," he said.

Autoliv has applied for a EUR225 million loan from the EIB to help finance the company's European-based research and development of safety products for smaller cars. "We're still negotiating with the EIB. It looks positive. We think it will be done this quarter," he said.

Autoliv, which has suffered as the global financial crisis has hammered the auto industry more than most sectors, has laid off about 10,000 employees since last summer and now has about 33,000 workers. It likely will have to lay off more workers, Carlson said.

The company is set to emerge from the crisis in good shape, he said.

"We've been so quick to get down our costs," he said. "We have one of the strongest balance sheets among auto suppliers. We think we're going to be one of the winners in the industry."

At 1436 GMT, Autoliv shares traded down 2.5 Swedish kroner (32 U.S. cents), or 1.1%, at SEK228. The stock has gained 46% in value since the start of 2009 but remains down 27% over the past 12 months.

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-By Ola Kinnander, Dow Jones Newswires; +46-8-5451-3097;