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U.S. distributor backing new Vietnamese tire plant

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BIN DUONG PROVINCE, Vietnam (Feb. 29, 2012) — Vietnam's J.S.C. Southern Rubber Industry (Casumina) has secured the backing of a U.S. investor for the $160 million factory it's building in Binh Duong Province, but for now the identity of the backer remains undisclosed.

A sizeable portion of the new plant's capacity—up to 1 million tires a year by 2017—will be exported to the U.S. through the unnamed investor/distributor, according to Casumina officials. Casumina did not say what brand or brands would be involved.

The plant under construction will make both passenger tires in sizes up to 16-inch rim diameter and all-steel radial truck tires in 20- and 22.5-inch rim diameters, Casumina said.

The company said the 732,000-sq.-ft. plant should come on stream in 2013 with an initial annual capacity of 350,000 units, move to 600,000 units by 2015 and hit full capacity of 1 million units by 2017.

Casumina did not disclose how much investment the U.S. backer is contributing. Reports in the Vietnamese media valued the investment at $30 million.

Casumina Chairman and CEO Nguyen Ngoc Tuan said the plant will create 1,200 jobs and represents annualized revenue of about $250 million. Casumina was among the world's 70 largest tire makers in 2010 with sales of $135 million.

Vietnam exported more than $58 million worth of tires in 2010 to the U.S., according to Department of Commerce data, including $43.5 million in light truck tires.

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