Former apprentice engineer with Michelin, now multi-millionaire businessman, John Caldwell, has pledged to try to find work within his mobile phone empire for the 950 Michelin workers facing the axe. Caldwell already employs 2,000 people in North Staffordshire and Crewe. He runs some 110 Phones 4U shops throughout the UK and has plans to take on 1,000 more people within the next year. The bulk of the new posts would be in communications positions.
At a press conference, Bridgestone president Yoichiro Kaizaki dismissed rumours that claims for damages in the USA could force Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. into bankruptcy. The company has set aside $450 million to cover claims and any extra needed could come from the US companys reserves, estimated at $2.3 billion. Despite the reassurance, Bridgestone shares fell by over 13 per cent in Tokyo.
General Manager For Goodyear US Retreading Operations
Armond Boyes has been appointed general manager of Goodyears North American retreading operations. Boyes is responsible for overseeing Goodyears Next-Tred retreading program, including the design, development and sales of Next-Tred products and the installation of retread plants throughout North America.
Cisco has agreed to buy Pirellis Terrestrial Optical Networking Systems for US$ 2.15 bn and also plans to invest US$ 100 million to take a 10% stake in Pirellis Submarine Optical Transmissions. The Photronic Business accounts for a turnover of 395 million Euros.
East German tyre manufacturer Pneumant has been nominated by an international jury for the Milestones Award.The award is given to companies in recognition of their enterprising approach to innovative achievements.
The ContiTech group, part of Continental AG, will cooperate on certain projects with Behr GmbH of Stuttgart, which specialises in air conditioning equipment and in engine cooling. As part of the cooperation Continental will take from Behr a 51 p.c. holding in the Kühner company (making hoses, principally for original equipment in Oppenheim). The company will be integrated into ContiTech Fluid, giving Continental the industrial leadership.
Speedline is a well-known producer of light alloy wheels for original equipment. However, the Italians want to improve their position in the aftermarket and thus a sales company has been formed for Germany in Ravensburg: SL Corse.
Consolidated net sales of the Michelin group climbed to EUR 13.763 million in 1999. Successful areas were North America (+12%), Asia-Pacific, with the exception of Japan, (nearly +9%) and, despite economic problems, South America (+6%). Europe (+1%) remained stable.
The joint-venture aluminium wheel plant SUOFTEC of Superior Industries (Van Nuys/USA) and Otto Fuchs Metallwerke (Meinerzhagen/Germany) in Tatabanya (Hungary) has been awarded the ISO 14000 certification for Environmental Management Standard.
It seems that BMWs CEO Joachim Milberg may be close to being dismissed. The German magazine stern reports that the major shareholder - the Quandt family - has lost confidence in Milberg due to his mis-handling of the problems associated with daugther company Rover. The BMW boss also left many questions unanswered at a press conference on 17th March. For example, he and his colleagues neglected to mention the planned sale of Land Rover to Ford. Milberg also responded with no comment to the question why had three colleagues been forced to leave the company over the Rover fiasco when Milberg himself and the boss of the Supervisory Board Doppelfeld had been the ones responsible? The Quandt family owns over 40% of BMWs shares and they have said that they would never entertain a take-over bid for the company. In the light of recent events, many people are sceptical of such statements.
Pirelli’s truck tyre division generated a 1999 turnover of 466 million Euro and an EBIT of approximately 38 million Euro (eight per cent of turnover). For the current year the division has set itself the firm target of breaking the 500-million-euro barrier. The commercial vehicle tyre business accounts for almost 20 p.c. of Pirelli’s tyre turnover, in which the truck tyre factory in Alexandria/Egypt plays a key role. (The group also has commercial vehicle tyre production in Settimo Torinese/Italy, Izmit/Turkey and Santo André/Brazil). The enterprise started in 1990 with a mere 11 p.c. Pirelli participation in the 150 million dollar investment. And even that was not in hard cash but in know-how about building a new truck tyre factory and research and development data for the product. Other investors were local, both private and public finance consortiums. As Egyptian legislation was liberalised, it became possible for the Italians to increase their share to 60 p.c. by capital raising measures and to take the industrial leadership. Only two years after the start of building the first truck tyre was produced at the Alexandria factory. In 1995 the annual capacity was 100,000 truck tyres, today 330,000. In two investment stages capacity is to be increased to 550,000 tyres in the short term and to 800,000 tyres per year by 2003. But the plans do not only involve volume growth; new products are also part of the project, for instance the tubed tyres FG85 and TG85 for on/off application in Africa and the Middle East, introduced on the Truck Tyre Day 2000. The total investment plan is for 140 million Euro. Currently only a third of the truck tyres produced in Alexandria go to export, but in future exports will account for about half the output. Read more in NEUE REIFENZEITUNG 5/2000.
Earlier in the year we reported that truck tyre production was to stop at the Fort Dunlop factory in Birmingham, UK. There was another devastating blow for the ageing plant when it was announced that car and van tyre production will be phased out by the end of the year. This will lead to 600 job losses, on top of the 650 redundancies earlier in the year. When all the losses have been implemented, the workforce at Fort Dunlop will have fallen from 1,700 to 500 inside twelve months. The latest move is as a result of Goodyear’s review of operations, following the joint venture with Sumitomo and has been blamed on over-production, the strength of Sterling and a reduction in domestic car production. Dunlop brand car and van tyres will continue to be manufactured at the company’s more modern factory in Washington in the North East of England as well as other European factories in the Goodyear group. Production at Washington will increase from six days a week to seven. Around 12,600 car tyres are manufactured daily at the plant. With truck, car and van tyre production gone from the Fort, that only leaves motorsports tyres, of which a mere 250,000 are made a year. The article in TYRES & ACCESSORIES 6/2000 outlines local reaction to the news and ends with the possibility of further bad news, as Goodyear is reported as saying that substantial further restructuring is still needed.
After Goodyear gave a profit warning for the second quarter its share prices fell yesterday by 10% to US$22.5; in June 1999 the price was US$58.7. The increase in raw material costs (rubber, oil, carbon black), the failure of securing better prices and extremely competitive prices in the UK and Germany, as well as the weak Euro against the dollar are the main reasons. US economy magazines yesterday wrote about the necessity for Goodyear to make immediate drastic moves over there (meaning Europe).