DUBLIN, Ireland-Continental AG has announced plans to close Semperit (Ireland) Ltd.'s passenger tire plant in suburban Dublin, phasing out production by year-end and eliminating 650 jobs. Conti has been trying to sell the plant for at least a year, and although the unit is still for sale, ``finding a buyer now seems unlikely,'' the company said.
According to labor sources, Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. and Japan's Toyo Tire & Rubber Co. were involved in discussions with Conti, and South Korea's Hankook Tire Co. Ltd. and Kumho & Co. also had expressed an interest.
Conti is negotiating a ``fair termination package'' with the plant's staff and said the closure will require the company to pay tens of millions of dollars in social costs.
The plant, located in suburban Ballyfermot, opened in 1967. Since taking over Semperit in 1985, Continental has invested more than $80 million in the plant in modernization measures.
However, despite ``real progress achieved in recent years,'' Conti said further study has shown that ``enormous additional resources would have to be invested and production at least doubled'' in order for the plant to compete profitably with producers in lower-cost locations.
The plant produced 3.3 million passenger tires last year-a large percentage of which were sold domestically-for sales of $129.5 million and earnings of $6.2 million.
The production being lost in Ireland likely will be replaced with capacity at other Conti or Conti affiliate plants in eastern Europe or Asia, as part of its overall plan to shift up to 40 percent of its manufacturing capacity to low-cost countries.-
FINDLAY, Ohio-Cooper Tire and Rubber Co. has confirmed that it has had ``preliminary discussions'' with Kenda Rubber Industrial Co. of Taiwan regarding a possible joint venture to produce radial passenger tires in China.
Additional meetings between the companies are being scheduled, a Cooper spokesman said, but nothing has yet been concluded.
According to published reports citing information supplied by Kenda, the $50 million project would be 70-percent owned by Kenda and located in China's Jiangsu Province. Construction would begin by year-end, with completion set for 1998.
LYDNEY, England-Watts Industrial Tyres officially opened a new plant for production of solid fork lift tires adjacent to its existing factory in Lydney.
The $4.67 million plant features fully automated tire-building lines and a curing process 30 percent faster than traditional technology, Watts said. The new plant will boost the company's production by 50 percent, though actual numbers were not disclosed. Another $2.33 million investment to further increase capacity is possible over the next two years, Watts said.
Much of the new plant's production will be targeted at export markets such as the United States, where Watts said it intends to double sales over the next three years. The company put its current U.S. sales at $5 million (65,000 units) annually.
LONDON-As part of a general corporate restructuring, BTR p.l.c. is realigning its tire activities, with BTR-Dunlop Ltd. in South Africa taking control of Dunlop tire manufacturing units in Nigeria, Zambia and Zimbabwe, as well as Dunlop International Technology Ltd. in the United Kingdom.
This move also will allow BTR-Dunlop to strengthen technology and marketing ties with Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd., the controller of the Dunlop brand name for tires.
Also, Dunlop Aircraft Tyres Ltd. now will be aligned with BTR's aerospace activities.
On the corporate level, BTR is realigning its activities into five core business units, resulting in the divestiture of a number of operations and a charge against earnings of $966 million. BTR-Dunlop will fall within the ``Smaller Global & Regional Groups'' business unit.