Metair looks to Russia, China, Africa to achieve growth targets


SE-listed automotive component manufacturer and distributor Metair was serious in its intent to globalise the business, said MD Theo Loock on Wednesday, as he announced the company’s financial results for the six months ended June 30.
Revenue increased by 9%, to R3.5-billion, compared with the same period last year, while profit for the period dipped 6%, to R236-million.
Metair had made two international acquisitions in recent years, in Romania and Turkey, with more corporate activity in the pipeline. Around 54% of Metair’s revenue flowed from batteries in the period under review, and 46% from other auto parts, while 31% of its revenue was generated in international markets, and 69% in South Africa. Loock on Wednesday listed ten expansion opportunities the company was evaluating.
These were a lead-recycling joint venture (JV) in Russia; a battery manufacturing JV in China; tyre distribution in Turkey and the Middle East; a battery distribution JV in the Middle East and North Africa; a total vehicle care concept JV in Africa; a battery distribution JV in Europe; a 30% shareholding in a battery manufacturing and distribution in a venture in East Africa; a 50% shareholding in a Russian battery manufacturer and distributor; 100% shareholding in an UK battery distribution venture; and, finally, searching for a major international battery company partner. This final project could be the one that catapults Metair to its goal of producing 50-million batteries on five continents by 2019, said Loock. It could take the form of a merger, a take-over, a reverse take-over or even a research and development partnership, especially as Metair increased its focus on energy storage solutions, he noted.
The focus in the energy sector had always been on power generation and distribution, but was now shifting to energy storage, said Loock, which was “an interesting alternative for us”. He said one of the African projects the company was currently mulling was linking solar panels to Metair’s battery standby business.
Loock believed energy storage solutions addressed the risk of power cuts more efficiently than large generators. Current Metair battery production stood at roughly 10.9-million units year, with utilisation levels at 8.5-million units a year.
Metair was working hard to sell the remainder of its capacity, with negotiations under way with a number of German vehicle manufacturers to acquire their stop-start batteries from Metair.
Loock regarded Russia as an expansion opportunity, despite the current economic challenges facing this country, which had seen Metair’s aftermarket battery exports from Turkey drop by around 230 000 units in the six months under review.
“We see a market with 40-million vehicles with a battery life of three to three-and-a-half years and a shortage in local battery manufacturers.”

– Engineering News



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