AKRON — After nearly a decade of "status quo" among the world's largest tire makers, the pecking order at the top could be in for a shuffle in the coming year or two, depending on how well Group Michelin's pending acquisition of OTR/industrial tire and wheel producer Camso Ltd. pans out.
Michelin's $1.45 billion offer to buy the former Camoplast Solideal could boost the French tire maker's annual sales by $900 million or more, putting Bibendum in a position to challenge Bridgestone Corp.'s 10-year reign at the top of the global tire league.
For 2017, Bridgestone retained the title of No. 1 tire maker by roughly $800 million over Michelin — $24.4 billion versus $23.6 billion — as Bridgestone's tire division reported 9.5-percent revenue growth versus 5 percent for Michelin.
The revenue from Magog, Quebec-based Camso would go a long way toward nullifying Bridgestone's advantage.
Michelin said combining the Camso business with its own OTR tire assets will create a global leader in OTR mobility solutions, with 26 plants, roughly 12,000 employees and annual sales exceeding $2 billion.
Other major players in the OTR field include Bridgestone, Titan International (sales of $1.2 billion), Trelleborg Wheel Systems ($985 million) and Balkrishna Industries ($692 million).
Goodyear remained a solid No. 3 in the rankings at $14.3 billion and maintained a $3 billion gap between it and No. 4 Continental A.G., which reported growth in 2017 of nearly 6 percent versus Goodyear's 1.4 percent.
While Goodyear's revenue gap to Continental is solid, one research group — London-based Astutus Research — maintains Continental is on the verge of demoting Goodyear to No. 4 in terms of passenger tire capacity. Astutus contends that the scale of Conti's capital spending on new capacity in the past few years — totaling close to 20 million units a year — has pulled the German company equal with Goodyear in the passenger/light truck tire realm.
One change did take place in the Top 10. Japan's Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd. (SRI) slipped ahead of Italy's Pirelli & C. S.p.A. into fifth after Pirelli completed the divestment of its commercial tire business — now operating independently as Prometeon Tyre Group S.r.l. and earning a spot of its own in the rankings (No. 32 with estimated sales of $900 million).