Shandong Linglong Tire’s plans to set up a tyre factory in Serbia gained a further boost on 17 September with the finalisation of an investment framework agreement with the country’s Ministry of Finance. The document was signed by Linglong chairman Wang Feng and Siniša Mali, Serbia’s Minister of Finance, at a ceremony in Beijing also attended by Aleksandar Vučić, President of Serbia.
Shandong Linglong will ship original equipment tyres to Volkswagen and Renault from its planned factory in Serbia. This is the news shared by Serbia’s president, Aleksandar Vučić on his website today. Vučić writes that Wang Feng shared news that the factory would supply the two vehicle manufacturers once production begins in 2020.
Several days after its Board of Directors approved plans to build a factory in Serbia, Shandong Linglong Tire Co., Ltd. signed an investment memorandum with regional and national officials. Company chairman and president Wang Feng signed the agreement together with Goran Knežević, Serbia’s Minister of Economy, at a ceremony held in Zrenjanin, Serbia on 23 August. Aleksandar Vučić, president of Serbia, and Li Manchang, China’s ambassador to the country, also attended the ceremony.
Under Linglong Tire’s ‘5+3’ strategy, the company aims to establish three tyre factories around the world in addition to five facilities in China. The tyre maker’s first international plant was inaugurated in Thailand in 2014, and yesterday Linglong Tire announced its Board of Directors’ approval of plans to build a second in Serbia. Construction of a new facility 30 miles north of Belgrade is expected to commence in the first half of next year and ultimately give Linglong Tire an annual capacity of 13.62 million tyres in Europe. The project involves an investment of US$994.39 million.
On 23 June Serbian president Aleksandar Vučić’s inauguration ceremony was held in Belgrade. Wang Feng, chairman and president of Linglong Tire, was invited to attend the inauguration ceremony in a move that suggests communications relating to Linglong’s proposed investment in a European tyre manufacturing plant are still open.
In its year-end 2016 report, Sweden’s Trelleborg AB states that its Board of Directors has “decided to make a major investment” in Trelleborg Wheel Systems’ tyre operation in Serbia in order to improve the facility’s footprint and increase production capacity to accommodate additional future sales.
In December 2013, the Republic of Serbia’s Privatization Agency decided to terminate its sale agreement covering a number of assets from state-owned company Trayal Corporation as the buyer, Bulgarian power company Brikel EAD, was deemed to have failed to fulfil its contractual obligations. Trayal was sold to Brikel in late 2006.
The United Kingdom is already the European market where Cooper Tire & Rubber is best-represented, however the tyre maker sees further potential to expand its market share. Speaking at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2014 Leveraged Finance Conference on 3 December, Cooper Tire & Rubber treasurer Tom Lause conveyed the company’s aim to grow in both developed and emerging European markets, and singled out the UK and Germany as areas of particular focus.
With Cooper, Mitas and most recently Michelin all upping production capacity in Serbia, you can understand the Serbs have invested in communicating the benefits of locating tyre production in the area during the course of 2014. But that’s not all. They have also invested in travelling all the way to Grungrao, Shandong provice, China in order to court the attentions of up-and-coming Chinese tyre manufacturers too.
The second Tigar Tyres plant in Pirot, Serbia is now open. An official inauguration was held at the facility on 9 October, and this culminated in Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic and Jean-Dominique Senard, CEO of parent company the Michelin Group, signing the first tyre to roll off the production line. The inauguration marked the completion of the first part of two-phase project. Investment has so far reached €215 million, and the 56,000 square metre facility will be capable of producing between 8 million and 12 million tyres in its phase one incarnation. Some 500 people will be employed at the new plant, increasing the Tigar workforce to around 2,600 to 2,700.
Vipal Rubber clients have held a joint event with Turkish distributor Tatko in Serbia to celebrate recent sales successes in the region. Tatko is responsible for distributing Vipal and Ruzi products in Turkey, Ukraine and other countries in Central Asia, and the Belgrade event reflects Vipal’s emphasis on its partner relationships, the Brazilian retreading company states.
Mitas has announced plans to invest the expansion of its Ruma, Serbia factory. In the first part of the planned upgrades, Mitas will build a new logistics centre. According to the company, this will help satisfy the rising demand from South European, East European and Middle East markets. In practice this means Mitas will soon also prepare an upgrade of Ruma’s production capacities for radial agricultural and forestry tyres. Mitas’ Serbian factory now produces both bias and radial agricultural tyres. The investment will be completed in mid-2016, at which point the Ruma plant will have a capacity of 35,000 tonnes a year.
It appears to be a case of once bitten, twice shy for Apollo Tyres. Following its experience with Cooper Tire & Rubber, and particularly its joint venture subsidiary Cooper Chengshan, the Indian tyre maker seems ready to give China a wide berth for the time being.
Following a Europe-wide tender process, Continental has been awarded a contract to deliver Deutsche Bahn some 17,000 bus tyres in several countries. Upon announcing the tyre supply deal for Deutsche Bahn’s DB Region and DB Arriva subsidiaries, the railway operator said Continental won the contract as its overall economic and service-oriented package created a favourable impression.
Cooper Tire has shared details of the sales office it has set up in Moscow. Alex Kolkov heads the office as sales manager; he joined Cooper Tire after serving in leadership positions at multinational companies with sales and production facilities in Russia, including Paulig Rus LLC and Sappi.