Sumitomo to fully absorb Ohtsu
KOBE, Japan-Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd. will absorb fully its Ohtsu Tire & Rubber Co. Ltd. subsidiary in a restructuring that also calls for creating autonomous sports and industrial products business companies.
Sumitomo said it is reorganizing to achieve ``managerial efficiencies and...optimum management set-up'' to allow each business to be profitable on its own. Consolidating Ohtsu into its corporate structure, for example, will simplify operations by eliminating overlapping functions.
The restructuring moves should be completed by July and will yield cost savings of at least $37.5 million, Sumitomo said. The changes will include the creation of separate sales companies to handle domestic replacement and export sales of the companies' primary brands, Dunlop (in Asia) and Falken. Sumitomo also handles sales of Goodyear-brand tires in Japan.
Sumitomo said the moves are not expected to affect the operations of its Falken Tire Corp. subsidiary in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
The sports and industrial product businesses will be renamed SRI Sport Ltd. and SRI Hi-Brid Ltd. In fiscal 2001, they accounted for nearly 27 percent of Sumitomo Rubber's $3.3 billion in annual sales. Sumitomo will continue to own them wholly.
Sumitomo has held a 51 percent stake in Ohtsu since November 2000 and had been its long-time technical assistance partner. It also has made Dunlop-brand tires for Sumitomo for years.
Separately, Sumitomo lowered its financial outlook for fiscal 2002 to a group profit of between $50 million and $58 million, down slightly from the August forecast of $66 million.
Nokian, Amtel expand relationship
NOKIA, Finland-Nokian Tyres P.L.C. and Russia's Amtel Holdings B.V. have expanded their fledgling relationship in the former Soviet Union, agreeing to set up a production and sales joint venture for Amtel- and Nordman-brand tires and to build a joint venture plant in Russia for making Nokian-brand tires.
The venture, Amtel-Nokian Tyres, will make Nordman and Amtel brand tires at Amtel-controlled factories in Kirov and Voronezh, Russia, and Rosava, Ukraine, Nokian said.
The venture is looking to produce 900,000 passenger and light truck tires in 2003 and quadruple that in 2004 to 3.6 million. The partners will invest about $25 million in the next two years to upgrade the plants.
The second phase, for a new factory, will be Nokian majority-owned. The new plant would have annual capacity of 1.2 million units within three years of final approval of the project.
Michelin expanding use of Bib logo
CLERMONT-FERRAND, France-Group Michelin has launched a range of bicycle accessories as part of a program to apply its Bibendum logo to various consumer products, the company announced.
The French tire group worked in partnership with Zefal S.A., a French maker of bicycle accessories, to develop and distribute the cycling accessories. The products include pumps, helmets, rainwear, bags, bottles, handlebar grips and maintenance products. Products initially will be distributed in France, Germany, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom, Michelin said. Other Michelin brand products, including automotive accessories, will hit the market in 2003, the company added.
Pirelli, SmarTire ink supply pact
RICHMOND, British Columbia-Pirelli S.p.A. has agreed to sell a version of SmarTire Systems Inc.'s tire pressure/temperature monitoring system to aftermarket customers in Europe. Pirelli's version, which can be used on car, truck and motorcycle tires, will be called ``X-Pressure.''
Francesco Gori, managing director of Pirelli's tire sector, said the agreement is a key step in Pirelli's strategy to develop a tire able to actively interact with the vehicle system.
``The data gathered by X-Pressure on the status of the air pressure inside the tire will ensure the control at any time of the tire's functionality, which will greatly increase safety and performance,'' Mr. Gori said in a prepared statement.
For SmarTire, the agreement will allow it to capitalize on the tire industry's push to develop and market ``intelligent tires,'' said Robert Rudman, president and CEO.
Pirelli is selling the systems through its tire distribution channels in Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. All X-Pressure systems will be tested and certified independently by Pirelli, SmarTire said.