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China's Grandtour Tyre in growth mode

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The financial backers of China's Grandtour Tire (China) have made two moves recently to boost the scope of their tire industry holdings, creating a group that controls five tire plants and could reach $900 million in sales this year.

To promote itself, Grandtour Tire reportedly is behind an effort to establish a Chinese-based Formula 1 racing program with a home-grown Chinese driver. China is scheduled to host an F1 race starting in 2004.

Grandtour Tire is controlled by Grandtour Tyre Pte. Ltd., a Singaporean holding company at one time affiliated with Indonesia's P.T. Gajah Tunggal Tbk. and still selling tires under the GT Radial brand name. In recent weeks it bought a 44.3-percent stake in Hualin Tire Co. Ltd. for a reported $12 million. Late in 2002 the firm also bought a 70-percent interest in Yinchuan CSI/Great Wall Rubber.

The management team at Grandtour Tyre has set a goal of securing a 20-percent share of the Chinese tire market and becoming one of the 10 largest producers worldwide, according to a company spokesman.

Grandtour Tyre's holdings now comprise:

* Grandtour Tire (Anhui) Co. Ltd. in Hefei City, Anhui Province-formerly Anhui Primewell Tire Co. Ltd.-making radial passenger and light and medium truck tires;

* 70-percent share of Grandtour Tire (Yinchuan) Co. Ltd. in Yinchuan-formerly Yinchuan (Great Wall) Tyre Co. Ltd.-producing radial truck and bus tires;

* Grandtour Greatwall Tire (Yinchuan) Co. Ltd. in Yinchuan, making bias and radial aircraft tires;

* Grandtour Tire (Chongqing) Co. Ltd. in Chongqing-formerly Chongqing Zhongce Tire Co.-and making radial and bias truck tires and bias motorcycle tires;

* Grandtour Tire (Fujian) Co. Ltd. in Pu Tian City, Fujian, making bias and radial tires;

* 44-percent share of Hualin Tire Co. Ltd. in Mudanjiang, Heilongjiang Province, making radial and bias passenger, light truck, medium truck, farm and industrial tires.

* Globaltraco International Pte. Ltd. of Singapore, an international distributor of the GT Radial and GrandTour tires and other automotive components.

In addition to the GT Radial brand, the Grandtour group makes and markets the Runway and Primewell brands.

Grandtour is represented in North America by TransPacific Tire & Wheel Inc. of City of Industry, Calif. TransPacific previously was known as GT Tire USA. TransPacific represents both Grandtour and Gajah Tunggal, the originator of the GT Radial tire brand.

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