Michelin Sells Wheel Business to Mefro
Michelin is set to sell its wheel business to the German Mefro group. According to Michelin, the new owners will keep both manufacturing plants and their 1800 strong workforce intact. Mefro, a family-owned company, has an annual turnover of approximately 160 million euros and aspirations to become the “number one European wheel manufacturer.” Now in light of the recent purchase, the company sees itself as a significant competitor to European steel wheel producers Gianetti and Hayes Lemmerz.
Michelin’s wheel business was believed to be in a chronic state of debt. For example the losses it made in 2002 were estimated to be in the region of 100 million euros. Michelin Kronprinz (Solingen) plant and the French steel wheel factory Troyes had hoped to be able to come into profit, but in 2003 the company announced the closure of the Spanish Aranda de Duero wheel factory. In addition to Michelin Roues France Troyes factories, the planned acquisition includes and Michelin Kronprinz in Solingen as well as Tekersan, situated in Bilecik Turkey. On top of this, the deal will also include the passenger and commercial vehicle wheel marketing specialists, Fritz Berger, based in Essen, Germany.
The Mefro group (named after Metallwaren Factory Fischbacher, Rohrdorf) has already got three manufacturing facilities. The plant’s headquarters and the company’s roots can be found in Rohrdorf (Bavaria). In 1991 the group acquired the former GDR plant in Ronneburg (Thuringia) and then, at the beginning of 2000, acquired Südrad (Ebersbach).
In 2003 around 1000 people were employed by the Mefro group. The company is owned Fischbacher family and the managing director is Dr Alfred Fischbacher. The company produces a range of wheels for everything from the smallest wheelbarrow to products suitable for heavy construction vehicles – and from there right up to the stylish passenger cars. The company’s largest plant in Ebersbach has a capacity of 5.7 million passenger car and 0.6 million truck wheels. Südrad predominantly sells into the original equipment business with passenger car wheels destined for General Motors/Fiat, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, VW/Skoda and Ford, amongst others. Truck wheels find their way to the likes of Mercedes-Benz.
In total Mefro more than 20 million passenger car steel wheels and 5.5 million truck steel wheels plus 1.5 million steel wheels for tractors, land and construction machines each year. “With the acquisition of the Michelin wheel business unit we will consistently pursue the further expansion of this range,” commented Dr Alfred Fischbacher. As far as the use of synergies resulting from the merger is concerned, the managers are supported locally by a company wide management board, he added. In the future all shares from the steel wheel division will be bundled together with Mefro wheels. The new group is said to be in a very good position when it comes to obtaining new orders.