TRAISKIRCHEN, Austria-The latest rescue proposals for Semperit Reifen AG's factory in Traiskirchen include a buyout scheme floated by former Austrian finance minister Hannes Androsch and further personnel cost reductions suggested by the factory's labor council. Mr. Androsch represents a group of Austrian investors that is proposing to buy the unit and transform it into a truck tire production site, reportedly with the support of unnamed foreign partners. His proposal includes securing rights to the Semperit brand name, an asset owner Continental AG has said repeatedly is not for sale.
Conti has notified workers at the plant it will halve car tire output to 2 million units a year, requiring job cuts of up to 900 out of 2300 now employed there. That's up from the 400 jobs Conti initially discussed trimming and follows the parent company's latest analysis of the cost structure at the plant.
Separately, the works council at Traiskirchen has approached Conti with another cost-cutting proposal that would maintain the plant's annual capacity at 4 million car and 500,000 truck tires, but with approximately 1,700 employees, which would make the plant one of Conti's most productive in Europe.
FRANKFURT, Germany-BTR P.L.C. is considering a restructuring of its African tire activities, with Dunlop South Africa Ltd. to take control of BTR/Dunlop tire manufacturing units in Nigeria, Zambia and Zimbabwe, according to sources within the global Dunlop network.
It's unclear whether BTR is preparing to divest the activities outright, but such a move would be in line with the British conglomerate's declared strategy to concentrate on its core industrial manufacturing and engineering activities.
The firm's tire business is scattered and relatively small: The various tire units combine for annual sales of about $175 million, slightly more than 1 percent of BTR's total revenue.
The London-based company declined comment, but tire industry sources confirmed BTR has been looking for a buyer or buyers for its subsidiaries in Nigeria, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
BTR also operates aircraft tire manufacturing and retreading in the United Kingdom, as well as Dunlop International Technologies Ltd., which provides turnkey engineering services and tire manufacturing know-how.
FRANKFURT, Germany-Group Michelin has reorganized its joint-venture tire manufacturing activities in Thailand with an eye toward expansion in Southeast Asia.
The French tire maker also has received approval from the Indian government of its proposal to manufacture tires there.
Michelin and its Thai partner, Siam Tyre Public Co. Ltd., have formed a common holding company for their joint tire-making operations, Michelin Siam Group Co. Ltd., which will become the partners' vehicle for expansion in the region.
The new company, 49-percent owned by each partner, is now the sole shareholder of five tire-related companies operating in Thailand: three tire-making units, a sales and marketing company, and a tire mold manufacturer.
In its annual report, Michelin said the restructuring ``reinforces the group's position of leadership in Thailand's tire industry and paves the way to pre-eminence in Indochina and southeast Asia...in the near future.'' The company also hinted at the possibility of opening additional production facilities in the region, but did not elaborate further.
With regard to its plans in India, Michelin said that government approval was only the first step in a long process toward setting up a factory. Unlike its top global competitors, Michelin currently has no tire manufacturing presence in that fast-growing market.
JAKARTA, Indonesia-Bridgestone Corp. recently acquired a majority interest in the PT Bridgestone Tire Indonesia joint venture, raising its ownership from 42.9 percent to 51 percent.
Bridgestone's partner, PT Sinar Bersama Makmur, now holds a minority interest in the venture, which was established in 1973, and also operates a bias-ply tire plant in Jakarta.