FINDLAY, Ohio—Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.'s alliance with Pirelli S.p.A. opens the possibility of cooperative efforts in Asia as well as in Latin America. Regarding the possibility of cooperation in Asia, Cooper Chairman and CEO Patrick Rooney said, ``Pirelli is very strong in Europe; Cooper is very strong in the U.S. Neither of us has a third leg on the chair in the Asian area. If there's a chance of getting together, or with additional companies out there, that could be a possibility.''
In the past, Pirelli has been active in Asia supplying technology to companies in China and India, and Cooper has discussed a Chinese joint venture with Kenda Rubber Industrial Co. of Taiwan.
In South America, Pirelli is missing a tier-two American brand, Cooper President Tom Dattilo said. Cooper will fill that niche and, through Pirelli's key marketing efforts on the continent, expand its own sales there. ``We would love to piggy-back on (Pirelli's) capabilities in South America,'' he said.
``Will they be building some tires for us? Will we be building some tires for them? Only time will tell,'' Mr. Rooney said.
This is the second strategic move Pirelli has made recently regarding its tire operations. Last year it spun off its European agricultural tire business—representing $125 million in annual sales—into a joint venture with Sweden's Trelleborg A.B.
More recently, Pirelli created a 51-49 joint venture in Japan to oversee distribution of its tires there. Pirelli expects the venture, with Japanese distributor Abe Shokai, to double sales of Pirelli tires in Japan to 600,000 units by 2000.
Pirelli claims to be one of the leading import brands in Japan. It will invest $14 million in setting up and running the new venture.