In an interview with the German publication Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Conti boss Kessel said that Pirelli would be an ideal partner for the tyre business, as this would produce significant synergies. To date, there has been no contact with the Italians over this matter.n According to Kessel, Continental need not fear any possible hostile takeover attempt because the car manufacturers would be very interested in maintaining competent and independent suppliers. In addition, the company could rely on strong backing from its individual important shareholders, such as Deutsche Bank, Dresdner Bank and Allianz insurance company, which together hold 16%. Kessel did not mention the fact that, in light of the low stock price, analysts had changed their minds last week and that most, if not all, of them do not regard Continental shares as a “buy” any longer. Hard times for Continental!
Continental AG is to buy back up to 10% of its own shares, worth around 260 million Euros at the moment. This could be seen as a precautionary defensive measure in light of the rumours regarding a planned takeover attempt by a German conglomerate. Weeks ago, Klaus Friedland, Chief Financial Officer of the Group, said that it was likely that the Group would buy back shares in order to give these to interested institutional investors at a later date.
An article in the German magazine Wirtschaftswoche suggests that the Thyssen-Krupp group is planning a take-over bid for Continental. Whether or not this is the case, it throws up some interesting possibilities and our article analyses whether such a course of action is feasible and what it would mean to Continental. The article also examines what the effects would be on the European tyre market and how the big tyre manufacturers might react to such an eventuality. Should Thyssen-Krupp mount a successful bid, the chances are that it might decide that Continental’s tyre division is surplus to requirements. Given such a situation, the implications for companies such as Michelin, Bridgestone and Pirelli are enormous and the article explores the different scenarios that might arise from such a course of action and the defensive measures that the tyre giants might take. Is the Thyssen-Krupp bid a figment of the imagination, or an attempt to boost Continental’s share price? The article concludes that Continental is a tempting target for a takeover bid (by somebody) and that its recent strategy makes the group more defenceless than in the past.
There are rumours that an unnamed rival from continental Europe is to make a takeover bid for Finelist, the UK-based distributor of car components. Finelist has 40,000 trade customers and, during the last financial year, made pre-tax profits of £26.3 m (Euro 43.6 m) on a turnover of £483 m (Euro 801 m).
Although a joint venture between Continental and Pirelli could make sense in the tyre sector, observers do not believe it. The Italians, in any case, deny it vehemently. While the German group is still recovering from the enormous effort of the Teves acquisition, the Italians are about to concentrate more on entering the real estate business. An extremely nervous reaction came from Pirelli Reifenwerke managers, who do not like such talk in the market, especially since they have enough to do looking after themselves. Sales boss Röske speaks in eloquent terms of the lustre of the Pirelli tyre brand that makes his team’s “eyes shine”. The brand, he says, is stronger than “our customers sometimes want to give us credit for”. In Röske’s opinion Continental may perhaps have tried to throw dust in people’s eyes to divert attention from a potential takeover by Bridgestone. This magazine rather thinks that Conti boss Kessel wants to avert the public gaze from talks with the telephone group Mannesmann, which is possibly ready to part with its automotive division.