French fast fit auto chain, Feu Vert has purchased 55 auto centres which operate from Carrefour shopping centres in France. This brings the number of Feu Vert centres to 370. 300 in France and 62 in Spain, plus others in surrounding countries. Feu Vert turnover is now in excess of 700 million Euros. The company is 62 per cent owned by Monnoyeur and 38 per cent by Casino. The company is also the majority shareholder in Mondial Pare-Brise – the auto windscreen company.
Pirelli has won a contract worth more than 30 million Euros to manufacture and lay a 1,400 km-long fibre-optic cable, which will connect the networks of Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Scotland. The contract was awarded by Icelandic company Farice Hf.
Noburo “Tim” Kawakami, president of Bridgestone/Firestone manufacturing operations in the USA, is to retire on March 31 next year. His place will be taken by Masao Wada, currently manager of the factory at Aiken County, South Carolina, and succeeding Wada will be Mike Rose, operations manager at the facility. In keeping with events in Europe, the American subsidiary is changing its name, from Bridgestone/Firestone Americas Holding to Bridgestone Americas Holding.
Nokian and Russian company Amtel Holdings have formally signed the joint venture agreement to produce and sell passenger and light truck tyres in Russia and CIS countries under the Nordman and Amtel brands. 900,000 tyres will be produced next year and 3,600,000 the year after. Upgrades of Amtel factories will require investments of US$ 25 million and the two partners intend to build a greenfield factory in Russia to produce premium tyres under the Nokian brand. The target is an annual production of 1.2 million tyres within three years of the start of the project.
The Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has recently destroyed large amounts of sub-standard goods in a move designed to emphasis the need to improve the quality of goods traded in Nigeria. The latest batch of goods to be destroyed included second-hand tyres imported and sold by Sanusi Gbenga Tyres Enterprises. According to a spokesman for SON the tyres which were branded Dunlop, Michelin, Continental and Kleber were full of flaws, cracks, blisters, and foreign materials. These, according to him, are unreliable and potential death-traps.
Indian Commerce Minister Arun Shourie has approved 23 foreign direct investment deals, worth 920 million Rupees (US$ 19.1 m). One of these is for Bridgestone to increase its equity holding in its Indian subsidiary from 90 per cent to 100 per cent, with an investment of 666 million Rupees (US$ 13.85 m).
In the USA, the Rubber Manufacturers Association is predicting that 2002 tyre shipments for new vehicle owners will rise by 7.3 per cent to 58.5 million units. This rise is fuelled by the heavy incentives and zero-finance offers from car manufacturers. The RMA also forecasts that car tyre OE shipments next year will stay flat and are expected to rise again in 2004 as the economy improves. An improved economy will also mean an increase in truck and trailer tyre shipments, says the RMA.
The chief executive of Australian joint venture Ansell-Goodyear has departed suddenly, with no reason given. Rob McEniry is regarded as the main force behind the renaissance of South Pacific Tyres, in which Ansell-Goodyear has a 50 per cent stake, consolidating to two manufacturing sites and taking out A$85 million of annual costs. SPT is moving towards profitability and an Ansell spokesman was confident that McEniry’s departure would not adversely affect the reconstruction programme.
The 2002 J D Power UK original equipment tyre satisfaction study has named Michelin as top performer, for the fifth year running. The survey asks more than 2,500 UK motorists to rank their OE tyres in a number of categories; quality/durability, appearance, traction, ride/handling and effect on fuel economy. Michelin achieved top ratings in all sectors. Continental achieved its highest-ever ranking, coming second, scoring well on traction, ride/handling and fuel economy. Goodyear came third, with an index score at the industry average level.
Cooper Tire & Rubber has reported its third quarter figures. Net sales were up 6 per cent to $839 million (3Q 2001: $791 m). Operating profit was $55 million and net income was $23 million, 28 per cent up on the 3Q 2001 figure of $18 million. Comparing the first nine months with the same period last year, net income rose 87 percent, from $47 m to $88 m, while operating profit was $195 m, compared to $137 m. Cooper’s tyre sales in North America declined by one per cent during 3Q, but this compared to an industry decline of nearly 8 per cent. Operating profit for the tyre group in 3Q was $27 m. This compares to a loss in 3Q 2001 of $9 m, but this figure was affected by charges related to a proposed class action litigation settlement.
Michelin has signed an agreement to buy the Viborg distribution chain for the sum of 300 million Euros to add to its Euromaster chain. Viborg operates from 465 sales points in Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria and The Netherlands and the acquisition will add around 570 million Euros to Michelin’s tyre distribution sales, pushing them over 2 billion Euros. Viborg employs 3,400 staff. The deal is subject to approval by the European Commission.
Amcast Industrial Corp. has reported results for fiscal 2003 1st quarter. Sales were up 15 per cent at $155.8 million (1Q 2001: $135.2 m). The net loss was $7.2 million ($5.5 m). Adding the cumulative effect of an accounting change increased the net loss to $53.7 million. North American Automotive sales were up 29 per cent while sales at Speedline in Europe rose 13 per cent. Operating expenses decreased by 2 per cent in the quarter, which Joseph R. Grewe, President and COO, described as “encouraging”.
Ipsos has carried out a study of Michelin’s financial image, asking 251 European financial analysts and 517 French people owning securities. They rated the company under a number of headings and Michelin’s overall performance was generally very good. It scored particularly well in the sections “In financial terms, its forecasts always match its achievements” and “It is particularly capable of reacting to the economic situation”. 80 per cent of the analysts and 56 per cent of the private investors said that they were “confident about the share’s performance” over the next six months.
An international jury of experts has named the Bertone-SKF Novanta as the winner of the 2002 Challenge Bibendum Award. Designed and built by Stile Bertone in Caprie, the Novanta is a working concept car, first shown at the Geneva Motor Show. Drive-by-wire technologies from aeronautics were developed in collaboration with SKF and conventional hydraulic and mechanical devices were replaced by intelligent electromagnetic systems, allowing extensive interior redesigning. The award was presented by Edouard Michelin.
Hayes Lemmerz has filed a Plan of Reorganisation with the US Bankruptcy Court. This is the first step in the company’s attempt to emerge successfully from Chapter 11 proceedings, which it hopes will happen in the first half of next year. The Plan requires approval from creditors and the Court. Among the corporate initiatives already put in place by Hayes Lemmerz are rationalisation of manufacturing and marketing and divesting non-core assets. It is understood that the plan involves Hayes Lemmerz paying creditors $425 million in notes and common stock in the reorganised company and assuming a debt of $650 million.