Continental Interested in Matador “Rubber“
According to German media reports, Continental is reportedly considering paying 150 million euros for Matador’s “Rubber” business unit, which mainly produces tyres. As this unit produces moulds and tyre construction machines in larger volumes than Conti does at its Hanover-Stoecken plant, workers have raised numerous objections against the move. Hanover-Stoecken was recently the subject of job cuts in its passenger car department.
Referring to the future relationship between Continental and Matador, company spokesman Hannes Boekhoff confirmed discussions are taking place: “The parties are negotiating about a possible extension of their strategic partnership to include the passenger car tyre range. The negotiations are not final yet.” Further details are not yet known and so far Matador has not released any information on the subject.
As far as Eastern Europe is concerned, Matador is passenger car tyre manufacturing’s “last Mohican” after the far of the Iron Curtain. In the Czech Republic Continental promptly secured its interests in Barum, whereas surprisingly Sava (Slovenia) was not takenover by Semperit, but absorbed by Goodyear. In Poland Goodyear, Michelin and Bridgestone got their shares from the former state company Stomil. In Hungary Michelin’s bid for Taurus was the best and in Romania Silvania and Victoria came to Michelin via the Tofan Group. With the exception of the speciality tyre companies CGS (Mitas/Czech) and Danubiana (Romania) and the tyre manufacturers in the former Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavia all relevant tyre manufacturers became part of the industry leaders – with the exception of Matador, that is.
But Matador’s independence has been limited in the passenger car/light truck tyre segment since 1999 when Continental entered the truck tyre segment of the Slovak company. This resulted in the Continental Matador truck tyre joint venture (producing 17.5 to 22.5 inch tyres). Continental held 76 per cent of this venture, making it the senior partner. In 2005 the joint venture produced 495,000 Continental and Matador brand tyres were manufactured, according to Matador data. The existing capacity is due to be extended shortly. However, as far as the car tyre production plant near the truck tyre plant in Púchov is concerned, Matador is still to 100 per cent independent.
Matador is led by the Rosina family. Stefan Rosina Senior successfully managed the transfer of the state company into the private sector at the beginning of the 1990s. His sons Stefan and Dr. Miroslav Rosina lead the business on to become the stock exchange quoted company (Matador a.s.) it is today.
Matador is one of the largest and most well-known business enterprises in Slovakia. Altogether about twenty companies belong to the group. These are part of two business units: “Rubber“ and “Automotive.” In 2005 the group had a turnover of 414 million euros of which scarcely 79 per cent belonged to the “Rubber” unit (approximately 325 million euros). According to “Tire Business“, in 2005 Matador was 35th in the world tyre manufacturer rankings. In 2006 Miroslav Rosina told this magazine that the 2005 tyre turnover totalled 272 million euros.
While Matador is the minority partner in its venture with Continental, the Slovakian company is on an equal footing with Sibur Russian Tires in respect to “Matador Omskshina.” This cooperation produced 2.817 millions passenger car and light truck tyres in 2005. In the joint venture with Addis Tyre in Ethiopia, where passenger car, light truck and also truck tyres are manufactured and from where Matador got 233,000 units in 2005, Matador is the majority partner. Furthermore production plants for conveyor belts as well as machine and equipment construction predominantly for the tyre industry also belong to Matador Rubber. The operational result of the “Rubber“ unit amounted to 40 million euros in 2005, according to media data.
Continental is not interested in the “Automotive” unit of Matador. And Matador has been extremely successful with this despite having only just founded it in 2005. Already the company has be come an important supplier to the automobile industry. And this industry now stretches beyond the Volkswagen group (Czechs and Slovaks “divide their” traditional Škoda brand) including new Kia, Peugeot and Citroën factories. Slovakia has become a large player on the rank list of European’s car production countries.
Apart from the retail businesses that can be found in Slovakia, Czech Republic and Hungary (under the “Pneubox” brand) at the “Core“ of Matador Rubber is the tyre plant in Púchov. Here Matador manufactured 5.2 million tyres predominantly for passenger cars in 2005. The location has also served as an offtake manufacturer for various different businesses in recent year. The contract with Vredestein might have run out, but when this magazine visited the factory last year Marangoni/Stunner brand tyres were being produced as were Nokian products.
Púchov also produces winter tyres and the full spectrum of passenger car summer tyres (last year from 13 to 18 inches). Now this is shifting ever more strongly toward high performance towards Y-rated as well as 19 and 20 inch high performance products. Furthermore off-road, transporter/vans and racing tyres can all not be found in the production portfolio.