TOKYO (Feb. 1, 2000)—Bridgestone Corp. has bought 94.5-percent control of a Kumho Industrial Co. Ltd. tire plant in China for $75 million, enhancing the Japanese company´s presence in China.
Bridgestone bought the stake in Tianjin Kumho Tire Co. Ltd. in Tianjin, and intends to rename the producer of passenger car and light truck tires Tianjin Bridgestone Tire Co. Ltd. The company did not say whether it planned further investments in the Tianjin plant to bring it to Bridgestone manufacturing standards.
South Korea´s Kumho created the Tianjin Kumho venture in 1995 with Tianjin Tire Manufacturing Plant, and spent $120 million over four years to set up a plant with 3.5 million units of annual capacity. The plant operates with 690 employees, Kumho said, producing about $25 million in sales in fiscal 1998.
Bridgestone bought the plant by acquiring Kumho Virgin Islands Inc., the South Korean firm´s holding company. Included in the sale was Tianjin Kumho Tire´s sales network.
The minority share ownership rests with Tianjin Tyre & Rubber Industrial Co. Ltd.
Bridgestone also operates a truck and bus tire plant in China—Shenyang Santai Tire Co. Ltd.—in which it bought 60-percent interest last July.