Conti boosts Malaysian stake
HANNOVER, Germany - Continental A.G. has increased its stake in Sime Darby Berhad's Malaysian tire making units to 51 percent from 30 percent for an undisclosed price and renamed the venture Continental Sime Tyre Sdn. Bhd.
Continental paid $31 million in March 2003 for the 30-percent stake, but the parties declined to comment on the price of the additional share acquisition.
The majority holding will enable Conti to ``close a gap in its worldwide network of manufacturing operations and to tap the high-growth ASEAN region and Australia,'' Conti said.
The Sime Darby business, which encompasses DMIB Berhad and Sime Tyres International Sdn. Bhd., generated sales of about $250 million in fiscal 2002. Together the two plants, in Alor Setar and Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, have annual capacity for 4 million passenger tires, 1 million light truck tires and around 300,000 medium truck tires.
``This gives us a strong manufacturing and distribution base for a market in which over 29 million passenger tires are sold, making it more than twice as large as the Chinese market,'' said Manfred Wennemer, Conti's chairman, in a press announcement, referring to the ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) trading area.
Yokohama raising China capacity
TOKYO-Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd. will double annual capacity for radial passenger tires at its Hangzhou Yokohama Tire Co. Ltd. joint venture in Hangzhou, China, to 1.4 million units by year-end.
Yokohama cited ``buoyant'' replacement market sales and ``active'' inquiries from auto makers in China for its decision to move forward by two years the second stage of the plant's planned expansion. Yokohama and its minority partners, YHI Holdings Pte. Ltd. and Hangzhou Rubber (Group) Co., have budgeted $26 million for the project.
The second stage production will cover larger diameter and ``upmarket'' tires, Yokohama said, as well as tires for sport-utility vehicles.
The venture secured property adjacent to the existing factory, which went on-stream in 2001. The project will more than double the plant's size to 1.43 million square feet. Employment will rise to 500 from 300 upon start-up of the new phase.
Yokohama owns 80 percent of the venture.
Michelin's Russian plant on stream
PARIS-Group Michelin's new passenger tire plant near Moscow has begun trial production.
The factory, in Davydovo about 60 miles east of Moscow, is rated at 2 million tires a year at full production, expected in 2005, Michelin said.
The new unit, Michelin Russian Tyres Manufacturing Co., initially will make tires for the Russian market only but eventually may export to neighboring countries considered part of the Commonwealth of Independent States, according to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. It provided $20 million in financing for the project.
Nokian eyes expansion in Russia
NOKIA, Finland-Nokian Tyres P.L.C., responding to European stock market speculation about possible new investments in Russia, said it is looking at ways to expand its presence there, but ``projects and investigations are...not completed and no final decisions have been taken.''
The statement came in response to European press reports that the Finnish tire maker was to take a 10-percent stake in Amtel Group, Russia's second-largest tire maker.
Nokian also stated that ``no merger discussions, but a further development of cooperation'' with Amtel is being evaluated.
Michelin to outfit Volvo trucks
CLERMONT-FERRAND, France-Group Michelin has secured a three-year agreement to supply Volvo Group with original equipment truck tires in Europe.
Michelin North America Inc. also has signed a three-year contract to be an approved supplier for Volvo Trucks North America Inc. and Mack Trucks Inc.-both subsidiaries of Sweden's Volvo Group.
In North America, Goodyear is the standard supplier to Volvo and Mack Trucks, meaning the brand is promoted by the truck maker and supplied on the vehicle unless the customer asks for a different tire. Goodyear also recently inked three-year agreements to supply tires to Volvo Group in Europe and Brazil, although the tire maker is one of many key suppliers on those deals.