Sentury Tire: Plans for USA tyre plant on hold

It appears that Sentury Tire has paused its project to set up a tyre factory in the USA. Local newspaper the Valley Times News shares that work has been “placed on hold indefinitely.”

The project was made public in September 2016. Sentury Tire said it would invest US$530 million in building a car and light truck tyre plant in LaGrange, Georgia. Rami Heiminen, then executive vice president of Sentury Tire (Helminen left Sentury Tire in April 2019), said at the time that “we anticipate production to start in 2018 and will build up to our projected manufacturing capacity of 12 million passenger and light truck tyres.”

Design plans for the facility were completed but construction work at the LaGrange site never began. The question now is if it ever will, and the answer to this question may well be no.

Quoting Scott Malone, who is president of the Downtown LaGrange Development Authority, the Valley Times News writes that trade issues between China and the USA derailed the project. Malone commented that it has been put on “indefinite hold” as these trade uncertainties have “impacted” Sentury Tire’s planned initial public offering in China. Sentury Tire intended to use the IPO to raise “the majority of the capital for the project,” he added, noting that promised bank financing was also withdrawn when China’s government put the IPO on hold.

Sentury Tire then stated its intention to raise the required funds internally and requested that the chosen 500-acre site in LaGrange be set aside until it had done so. This outcome seems highly unlikely: Observing that the site is a “very valuable piece of property,” Malone said the Downtown LaGrange Development Authority has informed Sentury Tire that it “can’t protect the property” and intends to “actively market it for any project that comes along.”

Sentury Tire has not yet commented on these developments.

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