Trelleborg buys Hebei plant, expands into Chinese specialty tyre market
Trelleborg has acquired an operation in Xingtai, Hebei Province, eastern China, in a move designed to facilitate the group’s expansion in the Chinese market for specialty, primarily agricultural tyres.
Trelleborg has acquired an existing facility from a Chinese company, part of the US Group Maine Industrial Tire LLC, and will also transfer approximately 180 employees. The acquisition and investments total approximately 100 million Swedish krona (£9.641 million; 11.45 million euros; US$15.54 million) over a three-year period. Production under the Trelleborg name is expected to commence during the second quarter of 2011.
“Our customers are becoming increasingly global. They are now becoming established in Asia, mainly in China, which is why we are implementing this acquisition. This is an excellent way of entering the rapidly expanding Chinese market,” says Maurizio Vischi, business area president of Trelleborg Wheel Systems.
“This acquisition will give us a lead in this expansive market,” continued Maurizio Vischi. “There is enormous potential within agricultural machinery in China. Today, more than half of all agriculture in the country is conducted manually and the shift to using more vehicles and machinery is taking place rapidly.”
According to the company, the acquisition makes Trelleborg the first agricultural tyre manufacturer from the West to have its own production plant in China, however the factory did previously belong US-based Maine Industrial Tire LLC as has been described above. Nevertheless the establishment does provide proximity to Chinese customers, but also support to European and US customers in the local Chinese market.
Look a little closer and it appears that the factory in question is the old Hebei Starbright plant that GPX International acquired in the purchase of Maine Industrial Tire Limited in August 2006. Following this transaction Tyres & Accessories reported on GPX’s plans to refurbish and modernize the site and expand the range of products produced in the factory. Back in 2006 the company said it planned to introduce a full range of bias and radial agricultural tyres, including both 85 series and 70 series radial rear tractor fitments. There was specifically mention of radial tyres and radial skid steer tyres in the small tyre radial production facility that came with the deal. In addition GPX representatives said they would install a solid tyre workshop using the technology obtained in its acquisition of Maine Industrial Tire Limited (MITL).
After GPX International entered administration at the end of 2009, a further incarnation of the Maine business – MITL Acquisition Corp – comprised of former GPX International Tire officials and private investors announced that it had won the bid for the firm’s solid tyre assets.
The most recent news from Maine Industrial Tire LLC (published on 10 January 2011) was that it was “restructuring its global business operations” by closing its Gorham tyre plant in the US state of Maine and “relocating that production to plants in Pennsylvania and China.”
In answer to T&A’s questions, a Trelleborg spokesperson confirmed details of what the company has bought: “The old Starbright factory in Hebei was purchased by GPX in 2006. It was split into two and modernised. One part produced solid industrial tyres and one part produced pneumatic. With the demise of GPX in 2010, the Ganz family (from GPX) acquired the total under their Maine Industrial Tire, solid tyre company. Trelleborg has acquired the Pneumatic tyre factory from Maine.”